A late comeback ended in heartbreak for the Canberra Raiders as they lost in golden point to the Parramatta Eels at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night 27 June.
The Raiders put themselves under early pressure with some poor discipline.
A penalty against an aggressive Jordan Rapana saw the Eels get great field position and, after a poor defensive read from Jack Wighton, created a hole for Ryan Matterson to stroll through and give his side a 6-0lead early in just the fourth minute.
Parramatta dominated the opening exchanges and were unlucky not to lead by more after having two tries disallowed by the bunker.
The Raiders had no field position until a forward pass from Reed Mahoney out of dummy-half and a strong run from Hudson Young put the Eels’ defence on the backfoot and Josh Papalii strolled over in the 18th minute to level the scores at 6-6.
The Raiders then hit the lead in the 28th minute after a clearly forward pass from Jarod Croker to Nick Cotric went unnoticed.
Cotric then put through a perfect kick to Wighton who displayed some lightning quick hands to put Elliott Whitehead through to score his fourth try of the season to give the Raiders a 12-6 lead.
The Eels lost their chief playmaker Mitchell Moses to a calf injury late in the first half with Brad Takairangi taking his place.
In the strangest incident of the night, Raiders big man Corey Horsburgh was injured in a tackle that led to some push and shove with Matterson and an emotional Horsburgh.
Horsburgh got up from the tackle looking like he wanted to punch on, he then limped off the field with tears in his eyes while flipping the bird to the small amount of Eels fans in the crowd who were booing him off. Bizarre.
Right before half-time, Rapana again gave away a penalty in the Eels attacking zone and Clint Gutherson kicked the goal to bring the score to 12-8 at half-time.
The Raiders came out in the second half lacking the fire that saw them take the lead late in the first half and the Eels pounced after a smidgen of luck finally went their way.
Croker was ruled to have played at a kick after turning his back and the Eels made the most of their field position with a try to Ray Stone in the 52nd minute giving them a 14-12 lead.
The Eels had all the momentum and were rewarded with tries to Michael Jennings and Maika Sivo, giving them a 24-12 lead with just 12 minutes to go.
The Raiders finally clicked into gear and a perfectly placed kick by George Williams saw Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad get his first to bring the Raiders back to within six points.
Not even two minutes later, a magnificent dummy from Whitehead saw him split the Eels defence and Nicoll-Klokstad was there in support to score his second try in two minutes.
Croker stepped up to level the scores and made no mistake to make it 24-24 and golden point it was.
Both sides had a couple of chances in the first half of golden point but neither could break the deadlock until Gutherson stepped up.
A controversial moment saw Reed Mahoney attempt an offload, he appeared to lose control of the ball and it contacted Croker’s arm but referee Ashley Klein judged it went backwards and after Wighton subsequently knocked the ball on, the Eels were gifted perfect field position.
They worked their way to the 10-metre line and Gutherson had an easy shot from 20 metres out and won the game for the Eels.
The Raiders have now lost back-to-back matches but will be back at home to take on the 12th-placed Dragons next week Friday at GIO Stadium Canberra.