The Panthers triumph 25-12 over the Rabbitohs in a top-four arm wrestle, while the Raiders miss the chance to move inside the top eight following a 19-18 loss to the Sea Eagles.
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Panthers vs Rabbitohs
Sea Eagles fight back to edge Raiders
Manly has come from 12 points down to beat Canberra 19-18, boosting their top-four hopes and denying the Raiders entry to the top eight.
The Raiders looked to have the measure of the Tom Trbojevic-less Sea Eagles in a gritty first half that played into their hands as they ran up a 12-0 lead at Lang Park.
But hard-running pair Moses Suli and Haumole Olakau’atu ignited Des Hasler’s Sea Eagles and captain Daly Cherry-Evans’s boot turned the tide, while Jake Trbojevic laid two match-changing tackles.
Trbojevic knocked the ball loose from Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad’s first carry in his return from neck surgery, with Morgan Harper scoring from the next play to level the scores.
Then Trbojevic somehow managed to halt Josh Papalii as the Raiders prop stormed within reach of an equaliser.
Either side of that tackle, Cherry-Evans laid on a pinpoint grubber for a Curtis Sironen try and then nailed the decisive field goal to put them seven ahead.
Introduced for the last 25 minutes of the match, Nicholl-Klokstad did score with 30 seconds to play.
But even after being piggy-backed up field by a penalty, Jordan Rapana could not nail the two-point field goal from 45 metres out to snatch a win.
The result sees the Sea Eagles go level with the Sydney Roosters, who have a game in hand, in fourth with two games remaining.
Manly looked offensively lost in their first scoreless first half of the season, with seven errors to the Raiders’ four not helping their cause.
Olakau’atu did his best to provide the spark, putting in a neat short kick to earn a repeat set and then stripping possession to mount another charge.
He thought he had put his side on level terms soon after when he barged over from a Daly Cherry-Evans short ball, only for it to be overruled because of an obstruction.
That frustration was ratcheted up when referee Adam Gee ruled a Raiders scrum feed after Emre Guler’s knock-on, deeming there was no advantage after Reuben Garrick had spilt a high ball in the same sequence.
Jack Wighton put Bailey Simonsson over in the left corner from the next set to push their lead out to 12-0 at half-time.
Olakau’atu was not denied at the start of the second half, twisting out of a tackle to score after Suli had made the break.