SLUSHY, dark and even cold aptly describes the conditions that greeted Canberra on arrival to the other side of Botany Bay to face Cronulla.
The same adjectives could additionally sum up the defeated mood of Sharks halfback Chad Townsend slowly traipsing off Kogarah Oval later that Sunday evening (March 21).
The goalkicker had the chance to send the NRL clash into golden point, even victory before playing more time had the adopted home side scored with its both final shots of the match.
But despite Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad doing his best to fumble and stumble an equally clumsy last-gasp kick from Sharks playmaker Matt Moylan, a 12-10 win had at least ensured the drive back down to the capital was more a relief than a celebration.
The careful steps to the kicking tee did not prevent Townsend first missing a conversion that swung from inside the left post further left after Canberra-raised back Josh Dugan crossed the line six minutes from the end to set up a thrilling conclusion.
Still two points down and still the same out-wide position to the left entering the final 15 seconds, the crawling approach had the former Cronulla junior stab the penalty shot and sail again to the left of the uprights.
It proved a night for seizing opportunities that Raiders coach Ricky Stuart could scarcely believe after many times before left in front of goals cutting a lonely figure, standing over the ball to ice the matchwinning shot.
George Williams slotted the Raiders’ only strikes on goal before Townsend missed his third from four attempts.
“I just thought he’d correct his last kick – I thought he’d get it,” Stuart said.
“But I promise you, I’ve lost a lot of those games too.
“So I’m happy to be on the other end of that.”
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Ian Meikle, editor