The Most Memorable NRL Magic Round Matches of All Time

Looking for the most exciting NRL Magic Round matches of all time? Look no further than this list of the greatest games in the event’s history.

Sydney Roosters defeated Canberra Raiders 30-24 (2019)

Famous for embarrassing second half fadeouts in 2017 and 2018, the Raiders nearly pulled off a Magic Round miracle against the Sydney Roosters (in what was an early grand final preview).

The Eastern Suburbs side led 30-6 when James Tedesco scored early in the second half, with a Latrell Mitchell double in the first half. Canberra’s comeback began with 27 minutes left: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jack Wighton, and Michael Oldfield scored to get the Raiders within six points with nine minutes left.

And they went very close to forcing the game into Golden Point, with Nick Cotric breaking down the left sideline and passing infield, but the ball went to ground.

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Canberra Raiders defeated Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20-18 (2021)

The sudden head contact crackdown that overshadowed the 2021 Magic Round (there were eight sin bins combined in Friday’s Wests Tigers vs Newcastle and Manly Warringah vs Brisbane games) had implications for this game.

On paper, this looked like a dud clash: Canberra had lost five in a row (including unforgivable collapses against North Queensland and Newcastle, and heavy losses to Penrith and Parramatta), while the Bulldogs were 1-8 (with big losses to Penrith, Brisbane, South Sydney, Melbourne, Parramatta, and St. George Illawarra).

While the Raiders led 8-0 at half-time, fans were still nervous, even against the struggling Bulldogs. And the nerves were justified, as former Raider Nick Cotric and Nick Meaney scored to give the Dogs a 12-8 lead. When Jack Wighton was sin binned in the 53rd minute (dangerous tackle) and Josh Papalii was sent off in the 60th minute (direct head contact), it looked like advantage Bulldogs (with Canberra briefly down to 11). But the Raiders rebounded through Curtis Scott and Sebastian Kris to take a 20-12 lead. A late try to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak cut the lead to two points, but Canberra hung on to break their losing streak.

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Gold Coast Titans defeated St. George Illawarra Dragons 20-16 (2022)

With the blockbuster Melbourne vs Penrith game following it (that turned into a mismatch), this Saturday twilight Titans vs Dragons clash – in wet weather – didn’t seem as attractive, but it turned into a Golden Point thriller.

Leading 10-4 at half-time, the Titans used their home state advantage to rally after the Dragons took the lead 16-10 with 10 minutes left (tries to Jack De Belin and Moses Suli). Jarrod Wallace scored with seven minutes left to tie the scores at 16-16.

That was followed by an eight minute Golden Point battle, with missed field goals from both sides. But a knock on by Talatua Amone gave the Titans a break, with Jamayne Isaako scoring in the next set.

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South Sydney Rabbitohs defeated New Zealand Warriors 32-30 (2022)

Like the Raiders vs Roosters game in 2021, this clash saw a glamour Sydney club nearly run down.

At the same venue where they lost the 2021 Grand Final (and lost to Brisbane in Round 1, 2022), the Rabbitohs were almost perfect in the first half against the Warriors: a double to Taane Milne, and tries to Alex Johnston, Blake Taaffe, and Damien Cook gave them a 26-6 lead. That became 32-6 early in the second half when Lachlan Ilias scored.

Then the Warriors began their comeback. Adam Pompey, Jazz Tevaga, Daejarn Asi, and Marcelo Montoya scored to close the gap to two points. And Souths were a man down for the last seven minutes, with Cook sin binned. But, like their traditional rivals did in 2019, the Bunnies held on.

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Sydney Roosters defeated Parramatta Eels 31-24 (2022)

Speaking of the Roosters, they stayed undefeated during Magic Round with a tight win against (eventual grand finalists) Parramatta. Though they had to weather a second half comeback.

The Roosters led 21-6 at half-time – tries to Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, James Tedesco, and Sam Walker (with Walker also kicking three goals and a field goal on the break), which they extended to 25-6 with a Joseph Suaalii try early in the second half. Again, sin bins were a factor, with Tom Opacic binned in the 15th minute.

Tries to Isaiah Papali’i (his second), Mitchell Moses, and Ryan Matterson closed the gap to 25-24 with 20 minutes left. The Roosters quickly answered with Suaalii’s second try. And while Walker missed the conversion, a 73rd minute penalty goal gave them a big enough buffer.

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