The Raiders kept their place in the NRL top four following a gripping finish in their 22-20 victory over Cronulla at a chilly Canberra Stadium, but their win was soured by an injury to Nick Cotric.
- Raiders winger Nick Cotric is in doubt for State of Origin II after sustaining an ankle injury
- The Raiders had led 20-0 before the Sharks launched a fight-back
- They moved to provisional third spot on the ladder ahead of the completion of round 14
Cotric could be in doubt for State of Origin II after he limped off the field in 68th minute on Thursday night with a left ankle injury after being caught in an awkward tackle by Sharks forward Wade Graham.
The New South Wales winger is hoping to retain his spot for Game Two in Perth next week, with teams named this Sunday.
His injury put a dampener on a gritty win at Canberra Stadium, where they held off a fierce comeback from the Sharks to extend their winning streak to three.
With the temperatures dropping to six degrees in the nation’s capital, the Raiders started red-hot by storming to a 20-0 lead with three tries by the 24th minute.
But the Sharks responded with four straight of their own to level the match, with only the wayward goalkicking of the returning Shaun Johnson the difference.
Raiders captain Jarrod Croker, however, stepped up to nail a 35-metre penalty goal for the lead, before producing a late intercept to seal a tense victory.
It was a record-breaking night for the veteran centre, whose first-half try equalled Raiders great Jason Croker as the club’s all-time leading try scorer (120 tries).
It came on the same night he also equalled Laurie Daley as the club’s second-most capped player with 244 matches.
Jason Croker has played the most matches with 318.
Croker’s personal 14-point haul also moved the Raiders’ all-time leading point scorer to the top of this year’s point-scoring table with 124.
The signs were ominous for Cronulla the moment full-back Matt Moylan dropped a regulation kick in the second minute.
It was one of a combined ten first-half errors and penalties that allowed Aidan Sezer, Bailey Simonsson and Croker to score in a 20-minute blitz.
Andrew Fifita was also put on report for a crusher tackle on Ryan Sutton.
But just as the Raiders looked poised for an easy night, Josh Dugan and Josh Morris crossed in the space of 10 minutes to reduce the half-time deficit to 20-8.
The comeback continued in the second half, with Braden Hamlin-Uele strolling through the guts and then Dugan levelling the scores soon after.