Manly hold off Raiders to stay in NRL four

Manly, helped by a penalty try, have beaten the Raiders 18-14 in a NRL thriller in Canberra.
Manly, helped by a penalty try, have beaten the Raiders 18-14 in a NRL thriller in Canberra.

Manly have made the most of an eight-point try to keep their spot in the NRL's top four with a crucial 18-14 win over Canberra.

In a heavyweight battle, punctuated by 26 penalties, Manly held on desperately for the final eight minutes to keep out the fast-finishing Raiders.

Down to 15 men for the majority of the match with Joel Thompson (suspected broken arm) and Moses Suli (ankle) injured, Manly had Morgan Boyle sin-binned in the last minute.

But they made a number of last-ditch tackles on their line in the game's final minutes.

The game had earlier swung when Canberra centre Joey Leilua was ruled to have his dropped his knees into Reuben Garrick's back.

With the Sea Eagles down 10-4 in the 51st minute, second-rower Jack Gosiewski latched onto a Josh Hodgson pass on his own line to charge downfield.

He found a sprinting Garrick on his outside, who put the ball down before being contacted by Leilua.

After a tense 15-minute period, Jake Trbojevic looked to have put the game beyond doubt when he charged over off a short Api Koroisau ball out of dummy-half.

But Manly's 18-10 lead was reduced to four just eight minutes from fulltime, when Jack Wighton broke through to put Jarrod Croker over.

It was the second time Croker had been the beneficiary of Wighton's work, the centre also scoring the first try of the match after a Wighton run.

The Raiders also felt aggrieved when Wighton was denied early in the first half, ruled to have dropped the ball over the line after a last-ditch Daly Cherry-Evans tackle.

Manly are fourth on the ladder, with a win against Melbourne or Parramatta in the final two rounds likely to put them in the box seat for a top-four finish.

The result also puts Canberra back in the battle to ensure a second chance in the first week of the finals.

They remain third on for-and-against on 30 points alongside Manly and South Sydney with Parramatta just one win back.

The Raiders have theoretically the best run home of the four teams, with Cronulla away and the Warriors at home to finish.

Souths also have the Warriors before facing the Sydney Roosters, while Parramatta have Brisbane next week before the round-25 Manly clash.

Australian Associated Press