Warriors fall to Raiders in bruising encounter, RTS' season likely over

Canberra have survived a testing battle against the Warriors to claim a 26-14 victory and remain in sight of a crucial top-four NRL finish.

Peta Hiku in possession. Canberra Raiders v Vodafone Warriors. NRL Rugby League, GIO Stadium, Canberra, ACT Source: Photosport

The Raiders lost halfback George Williams to concussion early, and were down by eight points when star five-eighth Jack Wighton was sent to the sin-bin after half an hour on Sunday.

Wighton's exit prompted coach Ricky Stuart, his team caned 7-1 in the penalty count at that point, to angrily throw his water bottle out of the coach's box.

Strike second-rower John Bateman also gritted through an elbow injury in the second half that sent a shiver through GIO Stadium and the rest of the Canberra fanbase.

However, led by surprise two-try hero Semi Valemei and veteran Elliott Whitehead, the Raiders recovered to cement fifth spot on the table, two points behind fourth-placed Parramatta with one game left in the regular season.

With a superior points differential, the Raiders can steal a qualifying final berth should they defeat Cronulla and the Eels get upset by the Wests Tigers next weekend.

Stuart's side is now all but certain to finish no lower than fifth.

The Warriors, who lost captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to a suspected season-ending hamstring injury in the second half, again showed plenty of ticker by taking it to Canberra early but couldn't muster a late push.

They look forward to finally flying home to New Zealand after facing Manly next week.

Warriors centre Peta Hiku and counterpart Jarrod Croker traded tries inside a combative opening 15 minutes, before the contest exploded with a series of fiery exchanges centred around Lachlan Burr.

The Warriors forward began the match with a handful of jolting shots, placing himself in the crosshairs of the Raiders firebrands John Bateman and Josh Papalii.

However, their aggression led to a frustrating period of ill-discipline, resulting in two penalty goals, hair pulls, and the dubious sin-binning of Wighton.

Even Stuart lost his cool when he fired his bottle into the grandstand.

The visitors threatened to run away with the game when Hiku nabbed his second and a third was on the offing, however a 90-metre Valemei try against the run of play proved a critical turning point.

A Hudson Young try six minutes later involving two kicks by Whitehead, filling in for Williams in the halves, completed a stunning turnaround and a two-point halftime lead.

Whitehead was also instrumental in Canberra posting first points in the second period, intercepting a pass with the Warriors in attack that set up the second for Valemei.

The rookie winger was also collected high by Jack Murchie that landed the Warriors forward on report.