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The Manly Sea Eagles have won a thrilling contest at GIO Stadium tonight, with a Dylan Walker penalty goal from 40 metres out in golden point handing them a 20-18 win over the Canberra Raiders in front of 15976.
In the first match of this year's ANZAC Round, both sets of players walked out as one before witnessing a moving ceremony before proceedings got underway in the nation's capital.
The point-scoring for the night got underway just how it finished with Walker giving his team an early lead in the 6th minute of play with a penalty goal after the Raiders gifted them the opportunity with back to back penalties.
It was the home team who looked to have the first try of the night moments later when prop forward Junior Paulo looked to have crashed over next to the posts, only for replays to show the ball missed the turf by a matter of inches.
Despite the Sea Eagles dominating field position for the majority of the half with 66% of the half played in Raiders territory, it was in fact the home team to score the only four-pointer of the opening stanza when Skipper Jarrod Croker lead the chase to pounce on a tackle four grubber from halfback Aidan Sezer in the 27th minute.
The Skipper converted his own try from out wide to give his team an eventual 6-2 lead at the interval.
The home team came out of the sheds looking more focused in the second stanza and when an unforced error from the Sea Eagles gave them some field position they were quick to capitalize. Hooker Josh Hodgson showed his class drifting across field and showing the ball a number of times before squaring up the defence to send a barnstorming Josh Papalii over the top of a would-be Daly Cherry-Evans tackle on his path to the line in the 47th minute.
Croker was again successful from out wide giving his team a 12-2 lead.
A penalty following points and a forced drop-out from the Raiders had them looking ominous, but a strong hit from veteran forward Nate Myles in the ensuing set forced the ball free getting his team back in the contest.
A slice of luck soon after saw them right back in it when a Cherry-Evans grubber ricocheted off a Raiders defender before falling into the waiting hands of man of the match Jake Trbojevic to force his way over the line in the 54th minute, with Walker's conversion reducing the deficit to four.
A good set of six followed from the visitors with a Cherry-Evans kick and a strong Sea Eagles chase trapped the Raiders in-goal. Full of running, the visitors made it back to back tries in a matter of minutes when interchange forward Lewis Brown sent Walker on a 20 metre dash to the line with a nice short ball on the right edge.
Walker from the right hand touchline nailed his conversion attempt to put his team in front heading into the final quarter.
A penalty goal from Croker leveled the scores in the 65th minute to set up a thrilling finish and the next try from the Raiders was as thrilling as Rugby League can get.
After electing against a field-goal attempt with seven minutes to play, five-eighth Blake Austin stabbed a kick in-goal which looked to be travelling dead for all money, but a freakish piece of athleticism from winger Jordan Rapana diving full stretched and reeling the ball back into play to plant it down inches inside the dead ball line sent the home crowd into raptures with their side in front 18-14.
Their excitement was short lived however when Sea Eagles back-rower Frank Winterstein burst into the backfield moments later to draw the fullback and send Tom Trbojevic over for the equalizing try and despite both team's best efforts to break the deadlock, the game was destined for golden point.
The Raiders looked to be in prime position to snatch the contest with Austin going within inches of scoring and Croker slipping over with plenty of room to move on the last tackle. With a handover awarded to the Sea Eagles and back to back penalties to follow, the stage was set for Walker to clinch another victory for his team after scoring the match winner in their previous victory three weeks ago.
After an ongoing sledging match with Raiders players during his last two attempts at goal resulted in misses, Walker stepped up to curl the kick around just enough to hit the inside of the right upright and fall over the cross-bar for the win.
Walker will now faces a nervous wait in the coming days after being replaced on report for a head-slam early in the contest.
Next week the Raiders head to ANZ Stadium to face the Bulldogs on Saturday evening and the Sea Eagles head to Allianz Stadium for another Friday night game against the Rabbitohs.
Canberra Raiders 18 - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 20
Venue: GIO Stadium Canberra
Halftime Score: Canberra Raiders 6 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 2
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Jake Trbojevic
2 points - Tom Trbojevic
1 points - Josh Papalii
CANBERRA RAIDERS (18)
Tries: Jarrod Croker, Josh Papalii, Jordan Rapana
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Jarrod Croker (1/1)
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (20)
Tries: Dylan Walker, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic
Conversions: Dylan Walker (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Dylan Walker (2/3)