Canberra have again shocked minor premiers Melbourne to move to within one game of the NRL grand decider after a chaotic qualifying final at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Second-rower John Bateman scored in the 78th minute to lock up the match at 10-10 before co-captain Jarrod Croker kicked the conversion for the 12-10 victory.
The Raiders will now have next weekend off before hosting their preliminary final while the Storm will host the winner of Sunday’s Parramatta-Brisbane elimination final to keep their season alive.
Melbourne looked like they had done enough to take the win but the Raiders never stopped coming.
Winger Josh Addo-Carr spilt the ball in a tackle which then found its way on to Bateman for the match-winner.
Storm fans were upset when Suliasi Vunivalu was then dubiously ruled to have gone into touch while taking the ball on the restart which effectively ended their chances.
Regardless, the Raiders deserved the win.
There was drama before kick-off when Canberra centre Joey Leilua suffered an eye injury from pyrotechnics as he ran on to the field.
He was unable to take his place in the starting side and had some plastic removed from his eye before coming on in the 20th minute.
But Canberra didn’t skip a beat with his replacement Bailey Simonsson scoring in the fourth minute with the Storm caught short out wide.
Two Raiders were put on report in the first half – winger Jordan Rapana for a lifting tackle on Cameron Munster and lock Joe Tapine for a chicken wing tackle on Brandon Smith.
They also lost winger Nick Cotric for the match in the 20th minute after he suffered a bloody head knock.
But the gutsy Raiders, who came from an 18-0 deficit in round 22 to upset Melbourne, still managed to take a 6-2 lead into halftime.
After a slew of errors and penalties in the first half, Melbourne looked more like themselves after the break and hit the front three minutes in.
Halfback Jahrome Hughes put up a high ball for Vunivalu to score their first try.
With a penalty either side Melbourne were out to a 10-6 lead which against most teams would be enough but the Raiders weren’t to be denied.