Jarrod Croker of the Raiders (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring a try during the Round 17 NRL match between the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the Canberra Raiders at Belmore Sports Ground in Sydney, Saturday, July 7, 2018. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Jarrod Croker of the Raiders (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring a try during the Round 17 NRL match between the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the Canberra Raiders at Belmore Sports Ground in Sydney, Saturday, July 7, 2018. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Raiders get up in Belmore miracle

CANBERRA scored three tries in the final five minutes to fend off a Rhyse Martin hat-trick and produce a shock come from behind 32-28 victory against Canterbury.

The Raiders trailed by 14 points with seven minutes to go but staged the miracle of all miracle comebacks to stun the Bulldogs with a try in the last play of the match through Joey Leilua.

Canterbury looked destined to record back to back wins for the first time this year but instead the Raiders - who have so often thrown away games this year - managed to climb their way out of the abyss and score a late flurry of tries to Leilua, Blake Austin and Joe Tapine to stun the 10,145 crowd and keep the Raiders slim hopes of a finals finish alive. It was Austin's injection from the interchange bench with 15 minutes remaining that sparked Canberra to life.

"They should've won," Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said. "We were pathetic - something I don't say a hell of a lot about this team.

"We have been on the receiving end of that for a couple of years. We were trying to take shortcuts. We didn't do anything to try earn the right to win.

Joey Leilua scored the winner in the final seconds. Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images.
Joey Leilua scored the winner in the final seconds. Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images.

 

"The way we won it was quite courageous…Blake copped a lot this week I'm feeling good for Blake right now. He won it for us. He came on and gave us that spark."

The Raiders lost Shannon Boyd (torn calf) midway through the second half, as well as Brad Abbey (concussion) while Tapine is facing another stint on the sideline after being put on report

The result overshadowed a breakthrough performance by Martin, who finished with a 24 point haul with the goal-kicking back-rower scoring all his tries in a 24 minute burst to start the second half to become the first player in premiership history to score 24 points in a match and lose.

 

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Bulldogs. Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Bulldogs. Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images.

 

Canterbury's Jeremy Marshall-King split through brittle Canberra defence off the scrum to open the scoring after nine minutes.

While Canterbury enjoyed 64 per cent of possession midway through the first half and 75 per cent territory advance they failed to produce more points.

Bulldogs coach Dean Pay said his side "lost that game ourselves".

 

Martin scored a brilliant hattrick in the second half. Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images.
Martin scored a brilliant hattrick in the second half. Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images.

 

"We only have ourselves to blame," Pay said. "We did a couple of poor things at the end there.

"Missed some easy one on ones, didn't get the ball back off the kickoff…it was an accumulation of things that went against us. We couldn't stop them.

"We are sitting where we are but our footy is getting better each week…We learnt a really harsh lesson."

 

The win keeps Canberra’s faint finals hopes alive. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts.
The win keeps Canberra’s faint finals hopes alive. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts.

 

The Bulldogs were badly exposed on their right defensive edge throughout the match with Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker taking full advantage. His speed set up Sam Williams to the Raiders first before badly exposing Holland again when he snatched a clever out ball by Aidan Sezer to give the Raiders a 10-8 half-time lead.

Martin's second half try spree was only interrupted by a Nick Cotric four-pointer before Martin landed a penalty goal to give the Bulldogs what looked to be an unbeatable lead with seven minutes remaining.

 

CANBERRA 32 (B Austin N Cotric J Croker J Leilua J Tapine S Williams tries J Croker 4 goals) bt CANTERBURY 28 (R Martin 3 J Marshall-King tries R Martin 6 goals) at Belmore Sports Ground. Referee: Gavin Badger, Grant Atkins. Crowd: 10,145

 

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