NRL: Manly Sea Eagles centre Dylan Walker shocks Canberra Raiders in golden-point thrillerDavid Polkinghorne
Published: April 21 2017 - 10:46PM
It was testament to the type of leader Canberra Raiders captain Jarrod Croker is, but Sia Soliola refused to allow his skipper to shoulder the blame for the heart-breaking, golden-point loss.
A Dylan Walker penalty, which snuck in off the upright, proved the difference as it took until extra-time for Manly to beat the Raiders 20-18 at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.
Croker put his hand up after missing a conversion from the touchline after winger Jordan Rapana scored an amazing try in the corner and slipped when they had an overlap and were shooting for a golden try.
Soliola said it said a lot about Croker that he would even consider taking the blame.
"There's a few boys that are taking it personally. In my opinion, they played their hearts out, all the boys did. There's nothing we can do," Soliola said.
"You can't expect Jarrod to do everything and you can't expect people not to make mistakes.
"We don't go out there to purposely drop a ball or give penalties away, it's just one of those things where things happen.
"We did that today, it was just one of those things where Junior could have scored, Jarrod could have scored, Jarrod could have finished it off.
"In saying that, that's the type of character Jarrod is. That's how much he loves the club, and that's how much we value him as captain.
"That's what he's all about, he's all about Raiders first and foremost, and that's what you want from your captain."
It was a tough, tight, even first half that only had a Walker penalty goal and a Croker try to show for it on the scoreboard - with both teams soaking up plenty of pressure.
Canberra struck first in the second half, with Josh Papalii - who continues to show why both Queensland coach Kevin Walters and Australia coach Mal Meninga think so highly of him - running over Daly Cherry-Evans and then through Tom Trbojevic.
It appeared to have given the Green Machine a comfortable lead until Manly struck twice in a matter of minutes to turn it into a thrilling second half.
The Sea Eagles got lucky with Cherry-Evans' kick bouncing off Soliola into Jake Trbojevic's arms, for the Manly lock to score.
Then Walker flew through the Raiders' line to give the visitors an unlikely lead.
Croker levelled the scores from the kicking tee before Rapana produced a magic finish in the very back corner of the in-goal area.
"No one's hurting more than me mate, but I've just got to take it. I had two chances there to win the game for the boys and couldn't get through. We've got to get over it pretty quickly and move forward," Croker said.
Having missed a penalty earlier, Walker had a chance to ice it in the dying minutes, but couldn't convert Tom Trbojevic's try to level the scores at 18-all.
The Raiders had the first chance in extra-time, with five-eighth Blake Austin almost producing the winning try with a brilliant run on the fourth tackle.
On the very next play, the Green Machine went wide and created the overlap, but Croker slipped when stepping back inside with winger Nick Cotric unmarked out wide.
Walker then converted a penalty from about 40-metres out to win it after Joe Tapine had been penalised for a two-man strip - although Josh Hodgson's involvement as the second man was limited to touching the Manly player before stepping away.
In his up-and-down night, Walker was put on report for slamming Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer into the turf in a tackle, which added plenty of feeling to the game.
Cherry-Evans admitted the Sea Eagles were lucky to get away with the two points.
"It's hard not to be a bit flinchy when you're in those situations. They're a really good side and to hold them out in a clutch situation, a lot of pressure, it's going to do a lot for our confidence defensively," he said.
"I thought we were very, very lucky there, very lucky."
AT A GLANCE
MANLY SEA EAGLES 20 (Jake Trbojevic , Dylan Walker, Tom Trbojevic tries; Walker 4 goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 18 (Jarrod Croker, Josh Papalii, Jordan Rapana tries; Croker 3 goals) at Canberra Stadium. Referees: Grant Atkins, Chris Sutton. Crowd: 15,976.
This story was found at: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/rugby-league/league-match-report/nrl-manly-sea-eagles-centre-dylan-walker-shocks-canberra-raiders-in-goldenpoint-thriller-20170421-gvpl1u.html