Canberra captain Jarrod Croker has buried a number of NRL demons in helping the Raiders to their greatest comeback win.
The Raiders fought their way back from 22-0 down after 25 minutes to win 30-22 against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, with Croker claiming a personal haul of 14 points with a try, four conversions and a penalty.
It was Croker’s 68th minute penalty goal from 42m out with a blustery southerly at his back that put the visitors ahead for the first time in the match.
It was a lead they didn’t relinquish.
The successful kick came after some near-misses in match-winning situations over the years for Croker.
In the 2010 final series he missed a late penalty that would have likely given the Raiders a win over the Tigers, while last year at Campbelltown again against the same opposition, Croker pushed a probable match winning kick wide.
There were plenty lining up to remind Croker of those misses as he set up his long range penalty, including a vocal Tigers skipper Robbie Farah, especially after missing a conversion just minutes earlier that would have put his side ahead.
“It was a courageous effort under pressure,” Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said.
“‘Toots’ (Croker) won’t say that but that is what it was.”
After some discussion amongst the Raiders players following the penalty, Croker stepped up to take the shot at goal.
“I always wanted to kick it, there were a few boys umming and ahhing but I wanted to do it,” he said.
“I tried to tap the one out wide and I had to hang it left with that breeze but I’m just more happy with the win and the comeback.
“There were 13,000 out there and they were hanging from the trees giving it to me.”