The Raiders withstood a withering comeback by Wests Tigers to come away with a 20-19 win at Campbelltown Stadium on Friday night.
After leading 18-0 with 12 minutes to play the Raiders conceded three tries in four minutes and a field goal to fall behind 19-18 before a Jamal Fogarty penalty goal put them back in front.
The sin binning of Raiders hooker Tom Starling in the 68th minute proved pivotal, the Tigers going into overdrive with tries to Jahream Bula, John Bateman and Brandon Wakeham in the space of four minutes levelling the scores at 18-18.
Luke Brooks then calmly potted a field goal from 30 metres out to put the Tigers ahead 19-18 before Fogarty was collected late by Isaiah Papali’i as the Raiders No.7 launched a field goal attempt to try and level the scores.
Papali’i made contact with Fogarty’s legs as he tried to put pressure on the kick and the ensuing penalty goal put Canberra back in front 20-19 and that’s how it finished.
Fogarty was the star for Canberra with two tries from pinpoint kicks aimed at the goalposts and a try assist as the Green Machine made it 10 wins in their past 11 clashes with the Tigers.
The Raiders got the scoring going in the seventh minute when Fogarty produced a pinpoint grubber into the goalpost pad and collected the rebound to score for an early 6-0 lead.
The home side threatened to hit back in the 16th minute when Bula exploded into the back field and found Fonua Pole in support but Raiders centre Matt Timoko ran him down and the ball split free in the tackle.
The Tigers created another opportunity in the 29th minute on the back of a sharp run by Api Koroisau and a string of offloads but back-rower Papali’i was bundled into touch just short of the line as the Raiders scrambled well.
A towering bomb by Fogarty seven minutes before half-time led to the Raiders’ second try when Bula put the ball down and Jordan Rapana pounced for his 100th career try. Fogarty’s conversion made it 12-0.
Back-to-back six again calls in the opening minutes of the second term gave the Tigers a chance to hit back but a poor pass by Koroisau saw them come up empty.
The Raiders then stretched their lead to 18-0 after Fogarty again grubbered the ball into the goalpost and regained to complete just the second try double of his career.
The Tigers continued to mount pressure but some poor last-tackle options from Brooks and Wakeham meant they were unable to crack the resolute Raiders defence.
On the back of the Raiders giving away their eighth set restart of the night, Starling was sent to the bin with 12 minutes to play and the Tigers pounced, Tommy Talau creating space for Bula to score.
The Tigers then made it two tries in two minutes when Bateman surged over from dummy half after a Brooks line break put them on the front foot. Wakeham converted the try to close the gap to six points.
Wakeham then grabbed a four-pointer of his own from a grubber kick in the 73rd minute and the Tigers had remarkably drawn level at 18-18.
A frantic final four minutes then unfolded as Brooks put the Tigers in front and Fogarty guided the winning penalty goal through the sticks to wrap up Canberra’s eighth win of the season.
The Tigers have now lost their past six games at Campbelltown Stadium but they can be proud of their effort to come back from 18 points down when it seemed the Raiders were cruising to an easy win.