National

Austin miracle keeps Raiders alive in NRL

By AAP Newswire

Ricky Stuart labelled his Canberra side as "pathetic" before Blake Austin inspired the comeback of the season to keep their faint NRL finals hopes alive with a 32-28 win over Canterbury.

Dropped back to bench earlier this week, Austin helped the Raiders score three tries in the final six minutes to pull off the remarkable win at Belmore Oval.

Six points out of the eight at the start of the weekend, the win means the Raiders will stay in ninth and remain a chance of playing football in September.

"They should've won," Stuart admitted.

"We were pathetic tonight. It's something I don't say a hell of a lot about this this team.

"We've been on the receiving end like that for a couple of years now where we're the better team but we get run down.

"We were trying to take shortcuts tonight. We didn't do anything tonight to try and earn the right to play football at them. We were very poor and undisciplined."

But then Austin came on the field and kickstarted the comeback in the 75th minute when he stepped through from close to the line to score.

Joseph Tapine then went over with two minutes to play, before Austin broke downfield in the final set allowing centre Joseph Leilua to cross.

"They never give in," Stuart said.

"Blake has copped a lot this week and he has had a tough week. I feel good for Blake this week because he won that for us.

"He came on and gave us that extra spark and BJ scoring that try in the right corner, it was good to get it.

"Sometimes you don't have to draw a picture in how to get your two points."

The win will come at a cost though for Canberra with Shannon Boyd limping from the field a torn left calf muscle and fullback Brad Abbey suffering a severe concussion.

Winger Jordan Rapana (hamstring) could return next week as part of a backline reshuffle, but back-rower Tapine could face a minimum two-game ban if he's charged for a dangerous throw on Michael Lichaa.

Skipper Jarrod Croker was the Raiders only other star, after he appeared to produce a lone captain's knock in the first half and early in the second.

He scored once and set up two others to put Canberra at 14-14 with 25 minutes to play, before Leilua knocked on close to the line and was penalised for backchat.

Canterbury responded through two Rhyse Martin tries, as the second-rower finished with a hat-trick and 24 points - the most in premiership history by a player in a losing side according to Fox Sports Stats.

"For all the hard work they put in, we just did a couple of poor things at the end there," Bulldogs coach Dean Pay said.

"It was just an accumulation of things that went against us and we couldn't stop it."