Manly player Jorge Taufua gets away from Raiders player, Bill Tupou. Photo: Melissa Adams
The Canberra Raiders have lost their first game since the sacking of coach David Furner and are long-shots to make the finals.
The Raiders conceded 24 unanswered points to start the game before going down 36-22 to the Manly Sea Eagles at Canberra Stadium on Sunday. Interim coach Andrew Dunemann faces a massive task to end a four-game losing streak and spark a miracle run to the finals.
The Raiders (10-12) must win their remaining games against the New Zealand Warriors (away) and the Cronulla Sharks (home) and hope for other results to go their way.
Canberra v Manly
Raiders players Reece Robinson reacts after the game. Photo: Melissa Adams
Meanwhile, the Sea Eagles are just about assured a spot in the top four and a double chance in the first week of the finals.
The Sea Eagles were dynamic in the first half, scoring four straight tries before the Raiders got on the board.
But the sin-binning of Steve Matai for a professional foul on Anthony Milford just before halftime gave the Raiders hope.
Matai was marched for holding down Milford, who backed up a long-range break from Raiders debutant Bill Tupou, in his first game since joining from the New Zealand Warriors mid-season.
The Raiders had the benefit of a strong breeze in the second half, Milford taking immediate advantage with a 40/20 kick.
Reece Robinson showcased what he can do at fullback, gliding across the turf from the scrum and scoring in the right-hand corner.
Their momentum was halted when Anthony Watmough charged over from close range in the 53rd minute.
Recalled winger Sami Sauiluma crossed for his third try in as many games to bring the Raiders back to within 14 points with as 12 minutes remaining.
Sea Eagles winger Jorge Taufua sprinted over in the 71st minute to wrap up the two competition points.
Milford showed sensational footwork to score a fantastic individual try to narrow the deficit.
Co-captain Brett White looked like he had given the Raiders the perfect start after just three minutes, but the ball was stripped by stand-in fullback Peter Hiku, called in as a late replacement for Brett Stewart.
The Sea Eagles scored twice in the space of four minutes, both to captain Jamie Lyon.
The veteran centre got his first with a piece of sharp footwork to get past Sauiluma.
His next came courtesy of a grubber kick from halfback Daly Cherry-Evans. A 40/20 kick from the Maroons utility had the Sea Eagles on the attack again. From the next set, Hiku exposed some soft Raiders defence to extend the lead to 18-0.
Sauiluma went close to getting the Raiders on the board, but a desperate tackle from his opposite David Williams dislodged the ball.
The Sea Eagles posted their fourth try when Kiwi international Kieran Foran put Jamie Buhrer in from close range.
Joel Thompson gave Raiders fans something to cheer about when he stretched out three minutes before half-time.