TODAY |

Raiders end Cronulla's season in comeback victory

Jack Wighton helped Canberra pull off the great escape as they ended Cronulla's season with a 32-20 win at GIO Stadium and set up a grand-final rematch with the Sydney Roosters.

Staring down the barrel of one of the biggest finals upsets in a decade, Wighton pulled off two of the biggest plays of the Raiders' season.

Halves partner George Williams also bagged a double, keeping Canberra's year alive and setting up a tantalising do-or-die battle with the Roosters next weekend.

But the result was shrouded in drama, with Sharks captain Wade Graham fuming after Wighton gave Canberra the lead from a quick tap as he tried to launch a challenge.

The NRL later confirmed Graham was unable to challenge the play as it was a discretionary call, but the Sharks skipper was still furious his pleas had been ignored.

Regardless, the controversy shouldn't take away from the Raiders' resilience in a year where they have time and time again faced adversity.

After beating the Sharks with their second-string side last week, the unthinkable looked like happening to Ricky Stuart's men in the first half on Saturday.

Cronulla dominated the opening 40 minutes, with 48 play-the-balls in Canberra's half while having to make just seven tackles at their own end.

It helped them to a 14-6 lead, before Williams turned the match just before the break when he latched onto an intercept from Wade Graham and ran 60 metres to score.

Wighton entered the fray after the break.

He helped the Raiders to a 16-14 lead with his quick tap that caught the Sharks out, before scoring again moments later when he juggled a Williams kick and got the ball down.

And by the time Williams got his second of the night when he charged over in the middle, the game was as good as done before Elliott Whitehead finished the job.

Earlier, Cronulla looked nothing like the team that had become the first in 25 years to reach the finals without beating a top-eight team.

Chad Townsend and Connor Tracey were both livewires early in attack, while Ronaldo Mulitalo and Blayke Brailey both scored in the space of eight minutes after Canberra's Joseph Tapine got the game's first.

However, the Sharks' attack stalled when Brailey left the field with an ankle injury suffered scoring his try under the posts following a Whitehead error.

Their only points from there came via a Sione Katoa intercept in the dying minutes, as their season spiralled out of control in the second half.