A desperate play from Canberra’s Jordan Rapana has secured the Raiders a nail-biting 12-10 NRL win over Parramatta on the Gold Coast.
The Eels looked set to complete a dramatic comeback as winger Maika Sivo charged for the corner on the last play of the match only for Rapana’s diving lunge to push the Fijian flyer into touch.
Despite claims from the Eels that Rapana had led with his knees in the challenge, officials deemed it to be fair and the Raiders secured their third win in a row and a spot in the top eight.
After the first scoreless first-half in the NRL since the opening round of the 2019 season, Canberra opened proceedings at CBUS Super Stadium through Corey Harawira-Naera in the 45th minute.
A heads-up play from dummy-half by Rapana in the 53rd minute extended Canberra’s lead before the Eels struck back with a long-range effort of their own.
Winger Blake Ferguson, making his first appearance since round 12, sprinted clear from inside his own half down the right before kicking ahead where Dylan Brown won the race to get the Eels on the board.
Parramatta dominated the game’s closing stages as they pushed to level the scores but a resolute Canberra defence held firm.
But just when it looked like the Raiders’ had held out, the Eels scored with three minutes to play as Sivo grounded the ball in the left corner milliseconds before his left arm went over the touchline.
Eels’ captain Clint Gutherson had the chance to level scores but missed a tough conversion from the sideline.
That set up a grandstand finish where Sivo nearly stole the game for the Eels only to be denied by Rapana’s desperation.
Parramatta finished the match down a man on the bench after Marata Niukore (knee) failed to feature in the second half.
The Raiders had injury woes of their own with Queensland State of Origin prop Josh Papalii failing a HIA after colliding head-first with the turf while making a tackle late in the first half.
Lock Ryan Sutton (sternum) also failed to finish the game.
Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson was also placed on report in the game’s opening minutes for a high tackle.