By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
Dragons hero Euan Aitken couldn't believe how fortunate he was after coming up with a match-winning intercept try to secure his side a 16-12 golden point win over the Raiders on Thursday night.
The try came as the golden point half-time buzzer sounded when Raiders fullback Jack Wighton's attempted pass out to Edrick Lee – in a fleeting effort to score an unlikely long-range try – was plucked out of the air by the young centre.
On a night where the south-western corner of UOW Jubilee Oval was marred by a blackout, nobody's evening was much darker than poor Wighton's error-riddled performance.
Aitken however – four days after making his representative debut for Country Origin – labelled his stumbling 20-metre run to the try-line as a career highlight as he denied the Raiders a late comeback victory.
"It all happened in fast forward for me. It was a bit surreal in the end because it all happened so quickly. I was just fortunate to get in the line of the pass and make the catch," Aitken said.
"I was moving up in defence and I just saw the ball coming my way so I did my best and I was lucky enough to catch it.
"I was juggling the ball and trying to keep my balance at the same time so I was just lucky enough to keep my feet. I couldn't believe it, with no seconds left, it was a big play for him to do it but lucky enough it worked out for me."
Aitken and Wighton played together for Country less than 100 hours before they came up against one another, and even though they were opposite one another he said he couldn't help but feel sorry for Wighton.
"I definitely feel for the bloke. Jacky's a good lad. He's a pleasure to be around and he was good to be around in the lead up for Country," Aitken said.
"I feel for him but it was very fortunate for us Dragons and the club. It's hard to say you feel sorry for him because you are playing for the Dragons and you want to come up with that play so I was lucky enough to be there."
The 20-year-old has been in the wars of late and it was no better exemplified than against the Raiders.
"It was definitely hard to prepare the body in four days. I was feeling a little bit flat but I did everything I could to get myself in the best shape and it's all about the attitude you bring to the game," he said.
"I had a couple of head knocks and I came off for a concussion test and then I hurt my knee a little bit at the end but it was all good."
"It was such a quick game. There were a lot of offloads and a lot of quick play-the-balls so it definitely made the scramble tough because everyone was getting tired," Aitken added.
"A few of us were a bit busted too so it was good to hold them out in the end."