Rugby League: NZ Warriors pull off miraculous comeback to beat Canberra Raiders

The NZ Warriors have pulled off one of the all-time great comebacks, coming from behind to beat the Raiders 34-31 in Canberra.

From 25-6 down at halftime, and 31-10 down in the second half, the Kiwi side mounted an incredible fightback to register their second victory of the 2021 NRL season.

The Warriors began with a hiss and a roar, as prop Addin Fonua-Blake celebrated his 100th NRL appearance by crossing over for the first try of the afternoon. 

The front-rower was on hand to finish off a well-worked play after being put through by Eliesa Katoa, as Kodi Nikorima added the extras with his boot.

But from 6-0 up, the Warriors' first half turned from a dream start to a nightmare finish.

In front of a raucous Canberra crowd, and despite being down to 14 men after injury to Kiwis forward Joseph Tapine, and concussions to forwards Sebastian Kris and Ryan James, the Raiders ran in an unanswered 25 points before the break.

Five-eighth Jack Wighton started the hosts' comeback, brushing off Kodi Nikorima to level the scores, before Ryan Sutton put the Raiders in front in the 21st minute.

Iosia Soliola added another in the 29th minute, before halfback George Williams grabbed the Raiders' fourth try of the first half as he slipped through the Warriors' leaky defence.

Williams rubbed salt in the Warriors' wounds with a field goal to finish the first half, as the Raiders took a 25-6 lead into halftime.

But like they did in the first half, the Warriors opened the scoring in the second thanks to an incisive run from Nikorima, only for the Raiders to hit back through Elliott Whitehead.

Down 31-10 though, it was the Warriors' turn to twist the knife against a tiring Raiders defence, Bayley Sironen scored the Warriors' third try of the afternoon in the 51st minute to give the Kiwis hope of pulling off the improbable.

Fighting to get back into the contest, the Warriors were fortunate to score again, as Nikorima put Ben Murdoch-Masila through, despite shades of a forward pass from the five-eight.

On-field officials awarded the try though, and the Warriors' comeback was on at 31-22.

Departing captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck proved again why he'll be nigh on impossible for the Warriors to replace in 2022, scoring in the 69th minute, as Nikorima's kick had the Warriors in touching distance of victory at 31-28.

With all of the momentum, Adam Pompey sealed the deal in the 78th minute, scoring the match-winning try after a set restart inside the Raiders' half to give the Warriors the lead for the first time since the 15th minute, clawing back a 21-point deficit. 

But the drama was by no means done. With just seconds left in the contest, the Raiders went close to scoring a winning try of their own, as Kiwis winger Jordan Rapana dived for the corner. 

Tuivasa-Sheck had other ideas though, somehow getting across to force a knock-on and secure his side's victory in the final seconds, and seeing the Warriors complete the biggest comeback in the club's history.

The win moves the Warriors into eighth on the NRL ladder, with two wins from three matches played. Meanwhile the Raiders sit fifth with an identical record, albeit ahead on points differential of +17 compared to the Warriors' +12.

The Warriors will hope to carry that momentum into their next match, taking on Sydney Roosters next Sunday.