SEA EAGLES 20 d. RAIDERS 18 at GIO STADIUM
THE MATCH: One of the best matches this year. The Sea Eagles came to the party. We knew the Raiders would. But a match where the lead traded places numerous times, Manly produced a character-laden performance and did enough to sneak home.
Jarrod Croker opened the scoring for the home side after following through a grubber kick to score. Manly had three repeat sets at Canberra in the final 10 minutes of the first half, but failed to score to leave it 6-2 at halftime in favour of the Raiders.
Blake Green made a statement straight away with a 40/20 right after the break, but Josh Papalii smashed his way over the try-line to extend the Raiders’ advantage.
But the Sea Eagles kept plugging away and eventually got rewarded with Jake Trbojevic and Dylan Walker scoring in the space of three minutes midway through the half.
Jordan Rapana scored a superb try in the 73rd minute to break a 14-all deadlock, before Tom Trbojevic finished off a barnstorming Frank Winterstein run. But Walker sprayed the simple conversion, consigning the game to golden point.
Joseph Tapine was penalised for stripping with two in the tackle after a powerful Martin Taupau run, and Walker – who had been verballed by the Raiders players after missing the earlier conversion – calmly slotted the penalty from 40 metres out to give Manly an exciting 20-18 victory.
THE MAN: Frank Winterstein is quickly becoming one of the breakout stars of 2017 – at the age of 30. The ex-Bulldogs and Super League forward came up with the big play to set up Tom Trbojevic’s late leveller, capping an excellent display that saw him play the full 85 minutes. Martin Taupau was the official man of the match, while Josh Papalii was arguably the Raiders’ best.
THE MOMENT: Jordan Rapana’s gravity-defying try with seven minutes left invoked memories of Greg Inglis’ airborne deeds in the 2008 Anzac Test. The Raiders winger managed to put the ball underneath his body, while in mid-air with the ball rolling over the dead-ball line, and score. It surprised everyone – even Blake Austin, who kicked it hard enough to bounce into the second row. Unfortunately for the Raiders, however, the visiting Sea Eagles had another couple of tricks up their sleeve.
Sea Eagles 20 (J.Trbojevic, Walker, Trbojevic tries; Walker 4 goals) defeated Raiders 18 (Croker, Papalii, Rapana tries; Croker 3 goals) at GIO Stadium.
BRONCOS 25 d. RABBITOHS 24 at ANZ STADIUM
THE MATCH: The Broncos hung on to beat a plucky Rabbitohs 25-24 thanks to a controversial Anthony Milford field goal two minutes from time. Brisbane forged an 18-8 half-time lead thanks to 63% possession and largely error-free football.
But Rabbitohs hooker Robbie Farah helped spark the visitors as they scored three unanswered tries and took a 24-18 lead. But as much possession as Souths had in the second half, Brisbane had enough endeavour to win in the end.
After a highly contentious Tautau Moga try levelled up the scoreboard, Milford’s clutch left-footed field goal secured a win that could have easily gone to the Rabbits, who were left fuming after replays suggested the Broncos five-eighth knocked the ball on before snapping the one-pointer.
THE MAN: Corey Oates. As well as Farah played, the tall Broncos winger scored two athletic tries in the first half to put the visitors in a strong position. He made two split-second decisions and still managed to score in the tightest of corridors, giving his side the ascendency.
THE MOMENT: Milford’s bobble of a low pass – not detected by the officials before kicking the winning field goal was one of a bevy of moments that went against the Rabbitohs. After apparently being held by the defence on the Rabbitohs’ try-line, Milford flopped the ball out the back and Moga dived over for a simple but highly dubious try to lock up the scores with 10 minutes left.
Broncos 25 (Corey Oates 2, Korbin Sims, Tautau Moga tries; Anthony Milford 4 goals; Anthony Milford 1 field goal) defeated Rabbitohs 24 (Damien Cook, Robert Jennings, Angus Crichton, Siosifa Talakai tries; Bryson Goodwin 4 goals) at ANZ Stadium.