The New Zealand Warriors produced a remarkable comeback to snatch the game from the Canberra Raiders 34-31 this afternoon at Canberra Stadium.
It was the game that had it all today in the nation's capital. A 21-point comeback from the Warriors led by the talismanic fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, a gritty and gutsy effort from the Canberra Raiders who lost three players in the first half but ultimately wilted with a late Adam pompey try completed the Warriors comeback.
Down 19 points headed into the half-time whistle, the Warriors could be afforded the chance to look to next week. Add further that Elliot Whitehead finished off a smooth move from the Raiders own half after Nikorima scored to make it 19 points the difference again. It seemed like the game was over.
Enter Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. The Warriors captain who is headed to rugby union next season, led from the front to get his side back into the contest. He was at every offload and spun the Raiders defenders out of their boots at times. Fitting that he scored to get them within striking distance then provided the match-winner, knocking the ball out of a diving Jordan Rapana's hands with seconds left.
An able deputy, Kodi Nikorima got one back in the 42nd minute with a slicing effort. He started the move and finished the four-pointer with pace. Returning from the Super League, Ben Murdoch-Masila has been powerful in his stints this season. He got a four-pointer which will much debated after the pass was close. Murdoch-Masila also provided the platform for Bayley Sironen to kickstart the comeback.
Raiders were the walking wounded and were in a white knuckle ride to finish with the two points. They built a huge lead with a superb first half display, tries to Jack Wighton, Ryan Sutton, Iosia Soliola and George Williams had them up 24-6. Williams added a field goal right on half-time to give them a 19-point advantage.
Losing firstly Joseph Tapine to a leg injury then a sickening head clash between Ryan James and Sebastian Kris left the Raiders down on numbers in the first half. Curtis Scott struggled through the second half with a rib issue and in the end, it tolled on the wounded Raiders. They held out for 78 minutes before the Warriors hit the front for the second time after scoring the opener through centurian Addin Fonua-Blake.
It will be a dangerous time to be any lawn furniture near Ricky Stuart after that game. He will be fuming about a few decisions but also proud of his side, despite the injuries, were right in the contest until the end. Now they lick their wounds and face the Titans next Saturday night. For the Warriors, they go to the SCG to face the Roosters.