Canberra have controversially snapped Manly’s two-game winning run after benefiting from a refereeing howler in their thrilling one point win at GIO Stadium on Friday night.
The Sea Eagles were left scratching their heads in the first half when Raiders winger Nick Cotric scored his side’s first try of the night, moments after teammate Joey Lelilua put an arm into touch while carrying the football.
The contentious incident proved costly as Ricky Stuart’s men came from behind to to snatch a dramatic 21-20 win in the dying seconds against the Sea Eagles.
The referees and linesman missed the first half indiscretion but the Fox Sports commentary team were under no illusions it should have been a Manly scrum.
“There it is, underneath Kelly, that touches the line and off the back of this, they score a try,” Anasta said.
“You can see the white of the line all over his hand,” Mark Gasnier added.
Canberra’s performance in their fifth win of the season was error-riddled but they defied their recent late-game form in amazing style on Friday night.
NSW bolter Cotric got the Raiders going, producing a brilliant man-of-the-match effort to give his State of Origin prospects another boost.
The teenage winger scored two tries in almost identical fashion in the first half before assisting fullback Jack Wighton for the Raiders’ crucial third try with five minutes to go.
Cotric put up a clever kick with Canberra down 20-14 to set up Wighton before captain Jarrod Croker converted it to level the game.
In a chaotic final few minutes, one of Sezer’s field goal attempts was smothered before he went again to send the crowd into raptures.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart was delighted his side ended their run of losses in close games.
“We’ve lost a lot of those ones in the last season and it’s easy for me to say it now but luck plays a massive, massive part in winning those close ones,” Stuart said.
“We weren’t going to say it was bad luck (last year) because that’s a weak man’s way out.
“It could’ve went the other way but the boys showed courage.”
Tries to captain Daly Cherry-Evans and Joel Thomspon saw Manly jump to a 14-2 lead after 20 minutes before Cotric’s brilliance brought the Raiders back into the game.
Manly centre Brian Kelly broke through Canberra’s defence when the Sea Eagles were a man down following Trent Hodkinson’s sin-binning midway through the second half.
Manly coach Trent Barrett says he wants to get clarification over the call to put Hodkinson in the sin bin but conceded his team should have won regardless.
“We had our chances to win it but it’s pretty heartbreaking to lose those ones,” Barrett said.
“I thought there were some things we need to tidy up at the end. We had enough ball in the last five minutes to put Canberra away.”
Sea Eagles fullback and Origin fancy Tom Trbojevic had another blinder, running for 149m in an outstanding performance.