Field goal winner
25 March, 2018, 12:00 am
NEW ZEALAND Warriors star Shaun Johnson has kicked his side to an incredible come-from-behind victory, slotting two fields goals in the dying minutes to secure a 20-19 defeat of the Canberra Raiders.
It caps the first 3-0 start for the Warriors in their club’s history, as they overcame a slanted penalty count and a lack of possession for much of the game.
The loss is another massive body blow for the Raiders who remain winless after three rounds, with their combined losing margin for three games amounting to just five points.
The Raiders looked destined to score early in the clash on the back of four penalties in their favour, but Aidan Sezer was held up over the try-line.
Warriors prop Adam Blair was sent to the sin-bin for a late shoulder charge, as Canberra continued to apply the blowtorch to the visitors’ line.
Eventually the pressure told and Siliva Havili scored his second try for the club when he darted over from close range, giving Canberra a 6-0 lead after nine minutes.
Raiders centre Joey Leilua showed no signs of the ankle injury from round two as he started a sensational team try, which was capped off by a one-handed off-load from Sia Soliola to Elliott Whitehead backing up on the inside.
New Zealand did not need much ball to open their account, with Peta Hiku crossing out wide in their first foray into the Raiders red zone.
Golden point call
Dumbfounded Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary struggled to see how the referees could penalise his team for not being square at marker, let alone make the call in golden point to essentially decide the game against the Brisbane Broncos on Friday night.
It was a cruel end to a gutsy, albeit scrappy, night from the Tigers, whose hopes of winning their third consecutive match to start the season were dashed by the boot of Broncos winger Jamayne Isaako in extra time.
Referee Ashley Klein blew a contentious penalty against Tigers backrower Robbie Rochow for not being square at marker while attempting to charge down a Broncos field goal in golden point, despite replays suggesting he may not have been in breach of the rules.
“It’s hard. Very hard,” Cleary said in the post-match press conference of his team’s heart-breaking 9-7 loss. I feel for the boys and I feel for the crowd. I feel for everyone.”
Cleary struggled to understand the ruling, admitting he felt it shouldn’t have been a penalty – regardless of the timing in the match.
“No. No I don’t,” he said when asked if it should have been a penalty.”