Raiders hold off Roosters with Rapana at the double
Canberra Raiders withstood Sydney Roosters' late fightback to prevail 24-16 at GIO Stadium and climb to seventh in the NRL.
The Raiders had overcome Parramatta Eels in another close-fought affair last time out and it was a similar story on Sunday as the Roosters recovered from 16-6 behind at the break to pull back to within two points at 18-16.
But on the buzzer, Aidan Sezer added to Jordan Rapana's first-half brace and Jarrod Croker's milestone score as the Raiders moved to within four points of their opponents, who were depleted by State of Origin commitments, in the table.
It had started well for the visitors when Jake Friend, on his 200th NRL appearance, faked to go down the short side before he darted left and found a gap to go over inside 10 minutes.
But the lead was short-lived as Rapana burst away down the right and wriggled free of a couple of tackles to get the ball down, before his second came courtesy of a pair of steps off his right that left two opponents on the floor.
Sezer's grubber was gathered and touched down by Croker for his 1,500th NRL point and he added the extras for good measure to give the hosts a 10-point advantage at the interval.
Midway through the second half Zane Tetevano butchered what would have been one of the tries of the season when he lost the ball in the offload rather than give a simple pass to either of two unmarked team-mates on his left.
The Roosters did not rue that missed opportunity for long, though, and were back in it as Joseph Manu did brilliantly to touch down one-handed on the right.
Croker's penalty made it a six-point game before Latrell Mitchell benefited from Michael Gordon's break to score. But Gordon missed the conversion from the touchline to level and as the Roosters became desperate, Sezer seized on a loose ball to go over with the final act.