The Canberra Raiders have solidified their place in the NRL top four after holding on for a 20-12 victory over a gusty Wests Tigers side at GIO Stadium.
Despite entering the game in 11th place the Tigers had the majority of the ball in the second half as they threw everything they had at Canberra.
However, despite not scoring a point in the second stanza the Raiders showed they have the ability to grind out tough wins, as the home crowd of 15,656 celebrated the side's 11th victory of the season.
The loss was Benji Marshall's first in 11 games at GIO Stadium as his side were kept at arm's length for most of the second half by a determined Raiders' defence.
The Raiders opened the scoring with a short-ball finding Dunamis Lui close to the line, with the Canberra prop showing too much strength to score his first try in 80 games. Jarrod Croker added the extras for 6-0.
Match: Raiders v Wests Tigers
Round 18 -
Venue: GIO Stadium
- LIVE PASS
Aidan Sezer pulled off a crafty grubber 10 metres out from the Tigers' line as they caught the away side napping, with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad flying through to touch down and double the lead with just 10 minutes gone.
After holding the Tigers out for consecutive sets, the Raiders gave away a penalty from a short drop-out gone wrong and Josh Aloiai crashed over soon after to make it 12-6.
A mistake by Chris Lawrence coming out of his own half gave the home side a gift-wrapped chance to score and a beautiful cut-out pass from Sezer found the chest of Jordan Rapana and the Raiders had restored a 12-point lead.
A penalty goal to Croker made the lead 20-6 and the Raiders looked to extend the lead nine minutes later when a line-break by Michael Oldfield saw them streak down field.
When Oldfield was dragged down attention was quickly drawn to Matthew Eisenhuth and Thomas Mikaele who had clashed heads while trying to tackle the centre. Both Tigers left the field for HIA assessment and Mikaele would not return.
Wests Tigers struck first in the first half with Benji Marshal creating something out of nothing down a short-side, with David Nofoaluma scoring in the corner to make it 20-12.
A penalty against Emre Guler for a late hit gave the away side a golden chance to narrow the gap only to see another grubber kick from the Tigers fail to eventuate to a scoring chance.
in the 50th minute the Tigers thought they had scored again through Elijah Taylor off a bomb but the referees ruled Luke Garner had knocked on in the contest before the ball spilled to Taylor.
Michael Maguire's men continued to press forward with a wobbling bomb dropped by the home side as they were gifted a gold chance to score with a knock by the Raiders.
However, a sloppy pass from the back of the scrum released all of the pressure as Oldfield dived on the loose ball.
The teams settled into an arm wrestle and the Tigers threw plenty at the home side but Sezer and Croker both put their body on the line to come up with trysaving tackles as the Raiders held firm.
Maroons forward Josh Papalii made a huge impact off the bench for the Raiders, making 201 metres from 18 hit-ups in 48 high-quality minutes, while Nicoll-Klokstad was again impressive with four tackle breaks and 152 metres.