NSW State of Origin discard Josh Reynolds was the hero for Canterbury on Sunday as they held on to beat Canberra 41-34 in a 13-try NRL thriller.
Reynolds had a busy afternoon scoring two tries and was placed on report before slotting a crucial field goal in the 80th minute to break a 34-all deadlock and ensure Canterbury escaped with the points after leading 26-0 in the first half.
Halfback Moses Mbye scored a try after the restart from Reynolds’ field goal and converted on fulltime to punctuate the victory.
Reynolds’ one-pointer was slotted from just outside the 30m line and well towards the right touch line and coach Des Hasler said his performance sent a firm reminder to State of Origin selectors.
“I don’t know that it was a case of not being wanted by the New South Wales side,” Hasler said.
“But he certainly gave them a timely reminder.”
Hasler was particularly pleased with the way his side was able to hang on to the contest after Canberra fought back strongly to overcome a 26-point deficit after just 18 minutes.
“It was always going to be a difficult game, coming down here. I don’t think we had too many friends [in the crowd],” he said.
“It was just a matter of getting the points however we could. Obviously, the scoreline indicated the type of game that it was, but it was always going to be something special.
“We walk out of here, we get away with two competition points, and to be honest, we needed those given the nature of the competition.”
Captaining the side in the absence of injured skipper James Graham, Aiden Tolman played the full 80 minutes in the front row for Canterbury in a tireless performance.
But he was quick to deflect any attention away from his individual efforts.
“I just went out there and did what had to be done for the team, as did everyone today,” he said.
“It was a gutsy effort, it wasn’t pretty, but I suppose it’d be entertaining to watch.
“We were pretty lucky to hold on, with a special effort from Josh Reynolds. He stood up today and I’m more pleased to get the win than anything else.”
In a game with momentum swings of epic proportions, a second try to Canberra’s Sisa Waqa with five minutes remaining, converted beautifully from the sideline by Canberra captain Jarrod Croker, levelled scores at 34-34.
Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin missed a field goal attempt in the 76th minute and Canberra were left to rue a Josh Hodgson kick that handed over possession.
Canterbury were able to maintain possession inside Canberra territory before Reynolds potted the field goal in the final minute.