Star halfback Aidan Sezer has been cleared of a shoulder injury after being replaced late in Canberra’s 44-30 NRL win over Manly.
Sezer left Brookvale Oval on Saturday with eight minutes remaining. But Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said Sezer wouldn’t join his halves partner Blake Austin on the sidelines with injury after the club’s ninth successive win.
“He is alright,” Stuart said.
“He just got a bit of a bang on the shoulder. Everyone has niggles this time of the year.
“You just have to have a bit of luck to get through to the semi-finals.”
Luck hasn’t been on the Raiders’ side this week, with Austin ruled out indefinitely with a hand injury suffered at training.
Sam Williams led the Raiders well around the park in Austin’s absence.
With just one round to go, the Raiders remain in the hunt for a top-two finish, courtesy of the eight-tries-to-six in which Jordan Rapana scored three tries.
“It was a pretty messy and scrappy game all day,” Stuart said.
“The players were pretty frustrated and we couldn’t find much rhythm.
“A lot of teams would have got beaten today but we had the professionalism and discipline to get out of it.”
Two of Rapana’s tries came in the first half after Paul Vaughan had opened the scoring for the visitors, and they led 18-10 at halftime.
Two tries in six minutes after the break to Joey Leilua put the Raiders well on track for their 16th win of the season.
But Manly didn’t lie down. Tom Trbojevic added one second-half try to his two first-stanza four-pointers after brother Jake had scored Manly’s first.
Tries to Edrick Lee and Jack Wighton kept the home side at arm’s length before Daly Cherry-Evans, Trbojevic and Frank Winterstein scored three tries in five minutes late to keep Manly in with a chance of a win.
Rapana’s third in the 80th minute sealed the Raiders’ win in what was to have been the retiring Jamie Lyon’s final home game at Brookvale. He missed out due to a hamstring injury.
“We didn’t give up but, when you score 30 points, you should win the game,” Manly coach Trent Barrett said.
“We probably let in too many soft tries through loose balls and other little things.
“We got within striking distance but a couple of poor decisions cost us.”
Melbourne have secured a top-two spot and either Canberra or Cronulla will join them in hosting a qualifying final in week one of the playoffs.
That will be decided by results of next weekend’s final round.
Canberra play Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval and Cronulla take on the Storm in Melbourne.