Match Summary The Canberra Raiders have produced an inspirational fightback against the Wests Tigers today, reviving memories of the 1989 Grand Final to defeat the visitors by 30-24 at Canberra Stadium.
In a tale of two halves, the Raiders trailed 24-10 at the break, managing to keep their opposition scoreless in the second half to forge a six-point victory in front of 12,240 jubilant fans. The visiting Tigers were the first to score however, with a converted try to Taniela Tuiaki after just three minutes recording the first points on a see-sawing afternoon of rugby league.
The Raiders evened the scores less than ten minutes later with a Carney pass putting Dane Tilse over in the face of weak defence, but the Tigers then proceeded to push forward with two tries in quick succession to take a 12-point lead.
The Raiders then further pushed their claims with a try before the Tigers scored again to ultimately lead 24-10 at halftime. There was a bit of controversy before the break however, with three Raiders put on report for a lifting tackle.
Injuries dominated the second half with both the Tigers and Raiders losing players as the home side launched a spirited comeback. A double for Adrian Purtell and a sneaky try to Alan Tongue had Canberra at the heels of their opposition as the final ten approached - then inspired play from Todd Carney saw them take the lead with a great long-range try, before they confirmed victory with Adrian Purtell's hat-trick effort in the closing minute.
The Tigers will have been impressed with their efforts in light of Robbie Farah missing from the lineup, but once halftime passed they slowly ran out of puff, a more intense Raiders side lifting with the home crowd to drive home a memorable victory.
The Raiders will remain in Canberra next week, and once again don their heritage jersey as they face the Melbourne Storm in Monday Night Football, while the Wests Tigers will re-live history at the Sydney Cricket Ground when they face foundation club South Sydney Rabbitohs on Sunday afternoon - a must win match for the Tigers, now having lost three on the trot.
Canberra Raiders 30 Tries: Dane Tilse, Adrian Purtell (3), Alan Tongue, Todd Carney Goals: Todd Carney (3/6) Wests Tigers 24 Tries: Taniela Tuiaki, Dean Collis, Bronson Harrison (2) Goals: Brett Hodgson (4/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary A number of changes for Wests Tigers, notably Mat Head at half back. Raiders as per the card. A beaut afternoon in Canberra as both sides ready themselves for the battle ahead.
Raiders kick off and the match is underway!
3 min: TRY Wests Tigers Winger Taniela Tuiaki scores in the corner after forward Chris Heighington splits the defence and fullback Brett Hodgson combines. A long range 70m effort culminating in a big fend from Tuiaki on Terry Campese. Sideline conversion attempt by Hodgson is successful. Wests Tigers 6-0
7 min: HELD UP - Raiders denied as Campese is held up. Raiders on the attack but Wests Tigers defend well and survive.
11 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Prop Dane Tilse scores under the posts after catching a desperate last tackle pass from half back Todd Carney from 5m out, the defence snoozing. Conversion attempt by Todd Carney successful. 6 all
From the restart: Campese for the Raiders kicks out on the full. Wests Tigers penalty from half way.
22 min: TRY Wests Tigers Forward Bronson Harrison scores under the sticks after Head holds up the ball long enough to put Harrison into the gap from close range. Tigers getting the nod after an eternity of video ref scrutiny for a possible obstruction. Conversion attempt by Brett Hodgson successful. Wests Tigers 18-6
27 min: Video Ref looking at possible Raiders TRY.... VERDICT...
27 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Winger Adrian Purtell gets benefit of the doubt on the grounding, scoring a much needed four-pointer following a backline movement from close range. Wide conversion attempt by Todd Carney unsuccessful. Wests Tigers 18-10
35 min: TRY Wests Tigers Harrison gets a double, crashing over after taking a pass from hooker Stuart Flannagan from 7m out. Wests Tigers gaining the upper hand. Mat Head making the most of his return with a sensational kicking game, chasing down his own kicks and turning the Raiders around. Conversion attempt from right in front by Brett Hodgson successful. Wests Tigers 24-10
37 min: ON REPORT - Looks like a lifting tackle with Raiders forwards Trevor Thurling, Ben Jones and Alan Tongue to be checked over later by the match review committee.
Half time: Wests Tigers 24-10 As mentioned in the report, half back Mathew Head has returned from injury and looking every bit like a match winner. He has been well supported by his forwards with lock Chris Heighington also impressive. Subsequently the Wests Tigers backs are finding room and fullback Brett Hodgson frequently popping up. Raiders have all the work to do. There have been some signs with a number of players trying hard, but at times struggling for possession and yards. Wests Tigers enjoying 59% possession at half time, but there's plenty of football left and the Raiders are not out of it yet.
Second half underway...
43 min: INJURY - Big blow for the Tigers's bench with forward Bronson Harrison hobbling off with a leg injury. Bryce Gibbs is his replacement. Harrison appeared to have fallen awkwardly in a tackle and is looking unlikely to return.
48 min: INJURY - Raiders forward Josh Miller is assisted from the field with what looks like a leg injury. Unlikely to return.
52 min: Raiders stepping up now with Wests Tigers on the back foot.
55 min: NO TRY - Wests Tigers so close yet so far. Hodgson pass to forward Justin Poore is ruled to have gone forward by the ref. Raiders off the hook and escape a penalty for offside in the process.
60 min:INJURY UPDATE - Harrison (Wests Tigers) sidelined with ligament damage and won't be back. Miller (Raiders) has a suspected broken ankle.
61 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Alan Tongue races after a grubber kick to score. Wests Tigers defence making a complete meal of it behind the goal line. Conversion attempt by Todd Carney unsuccessful, hitting the upright. Fairly easy angle 10m wide and one he should have kicked. Wests Tigers 24-20
65 min: CLOSE CALL - Raiders come within a whisker of levelling the scores when a cross field kick from Carney is almost taken by the receiver in the air but it spills out on the way down.
70 min: Raiders withstand a Wests Tigers raid. Raiders now deep in their own half and slowly working it out.
73 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Sensational effort from Todd Carney who has run 70m to score under the posts and put the Raiders in front for the first time in the match. Carney was able to fend off a couple of would-be tacklers including centre Chris Lawrence who then attempted to chase Carney down. Lawrence was making ground, but Carney had enough in the tank dive over. Conversion attempt by Todd Carney successful. Canberra Raiders 26-24
78 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Sensational scenes as Purtell gets a hat trick, running 100m to score out wide and and should put the match beyond doubt. Wests Tigers with repeat opportunities at the line had the Raiders under the hammer, but a grubber kick from Head was picked up Purtell and then the race as on. Wide conversion attempt by Todd Carney hits uprights and is unsuccessful. Canberra Raiders 30-24
Full time: Raiders 30-24 Great comeback from the Raiders, scoring 20 unanswered points in the second half. Wests Tigers fans gutted after their team appeared to have the game in hand at half time. Alan Tongue and Todd Carney steering the ship but some big performances from the Raiders forward pack turned it around. Wests Tigers also had the stats favouring them with 52% possession at full time. But the Raiders kept focussed and this resulted in better control just wide of the ruck helped by some quick play-the-ball.