The Canberra Raiders have stolen a last-gasp 34-32 win over the Sharks in round one of the National Youth Competition.
On a fast and dry Remondis pitch, the sides traded end-to-end blows in an exciting opening period.
Raiders winger Thomas Cronan opened the scoring in the 4th minute having chased down Lachlan Croker’s deft kick into the Sharks in-goal area to give the visitors a dream start to the match.
A late inclusion having been named on an extended first grade bench, Sharks’ fullback Valentine Holmes looked to have levelled the scores after slicing through the Raiders defence, only to have dropped the ball over the line.
Making matters worse for the Sharks, the Raiders ran in their second soon after as winger Cameron Booth extended the margin to eight points.
The visitors went within inches of taking their lead to 14 points in the 16th minute, but again an error over the line denied an otherwise certain four-pointer.
The Sharks hit back to score their first points of the afternoon in the 20th – with Holmes again playing a major role – as Joshua Addo-Carr finished a well-worked backline play to score untouched.
The hosts scored their second try in the space of three minutes when half Connor Tracey danced around defenders from close range, before five-eighth Jaden Clarke made it a treble of first half tries when he crossed twelve minutes out from the break.
At the change of ends, Connor Purcell scored for the Raiders to reduce the margin back to two, before a Holmes bust sent Clarke on his way to score his second of the afternoon and again extend the lead to eight.
A double to Chevi Ellis in the 56th and 63rd minutes saw the Raiders take a four-point lead with 15 to play, before the Sharks hit back with two of their to regain a six-point ascendency with five minutes remaining.
In a seesawing clash the Raiders levelled the scores with two minutes to play, before being awarded a penalty 32 meters from goal and opting to – successfully – take the two points on offer.