The Gold Coast Titans have secured the biggest comeback victory in the clubs history, after miraculously coming back from an 18-0 deficit to defeat the Canberra Raiders on Sunday afternoon.
After just 15 minutes of football, it looked like the Titans were in for an extremely long, painful season. The Raiders started the game ferociously, running in three quick tries, and making the Titans defence look like paper. A nice try to Kevin Proctor gave the Titans a glimmer of hope, and when Konrad Hurrell left Jarrod Croker lying in his wake just minutes later, you could feel the momentum start to swing to the Titans. A try to Junior Paulo gave the Raiders a 24-6 lead, but the Titans refused to give up hope. Ash Taylor put through a perfect grubber for his halves partner Kane Elgey, which left the Titans down by 12 at the half time break.
Garth Brennan was faced with the task of inspiring his team in his very first NRL halftime speech, and it appears that his message got through to the players, as the Titans came out firing in the second half. Ash Taylor put a try on a platter for winger Phillip Sami with a great cut out pass, and then ten minutes later Elgey delivered a pinpoint long ball to create an overlap in the left corner, with Dale Copley charging over to score. A Michael Gordon penalty goal in the 61st minute tied up the game at 24 all, and a Titans victory appeared to be on the cards. However, the Raiders weren’t done yet, with a fortunate bounce ending up in Joey Leilua’s hand, and Jarrod Croker missed the vital conversion from the sideline. It appeared the Titans comeback hopes were destined to fall short, until a last-ditch play came off. Ash Taylor put a tricky grubber into space, and the ball bounced away from the Raiders players, sitting up perfectly for Koni Hurrell to barge over under the posts.
Raiders Forwards Strong but Lost their Steam
The Raiders have one of the most intimidating forward packs in the competition, and their dominance was on display from the very beginning of the game. Canberra used their size to barge their way up field, and their strength quickly opened up the Titans defence. Forwards Elliot Whitehead and Junior Paulo barged over for tries, and their offloading caused all sorts of problems for the Titans. However momentum swung the Titans way in the 20th minute, and from that stage on the Raiders struggled to keep up with the pace of the Gold Coast. The mobile Titans forwards appeared to wear out the Raiders, leading to the Titans massive comeback win.
Garth’s Influence Notable
Their defence looked absolutely woeful in the first 15 minutes of the game, however the Titans looked like a completely new side with the ball in hand, with much of the credit coming down to new coach Garth Brennan. The Titans played some great attacking football, showing no fear of offloading the ball and spreading it out wide. There appeared to be a lot of structure to the Titans attack, and the halves Taylor and Elgey were constantly getting involved and distributing the ball well. Taylor finished with an impressive 4 try assists off the back of some nice ball movement amongst the Titans side.
Titans Pack Stronger than Expected
Brennan will have a bit of a welcome headache in the next few weeks, with suspended duo Jarrod Wallace and Keegan Hipgrave needing to find a place in a forward pack that performed well on Sunday. Regular backrower/lock Jai Arrow filled in for Wallace in the front row, and he was an absolute stand out, with consistently hard runs and tackling. Arrow will move from the front row when Wallace returns, and perhaps Brennan should look at putting Arrow at lock to stiffen up the Titans defence, allowing Bryce Cartwright to provide the spark he is capable of from the bench. Promising youngster Hipgrave is already up to NRL standard, yet he might struggle to find a spot in the side this week, as Will Matthews, Max King, and Morgan Boyle were all impressive off the bench.
Same old Woes from the Raiders
They were notorious for losing close games in 2017, and it appears nothing has changed for the Raiders this year after they shockingly gave up an 18-0 lead. With such a handy head start, the Raiders should’ve had no problem putting the Titans to bed by half time, however an abundance of errors, missed tackles and poor efforts let the Gold Coast back into the game and build up momentum. Ricky Stuart’s decision to play Aidan Sezer at hooker also appeared to let Canberra down, leaving the coach with a tough decision on his spine heading into next week.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
“This kid just keeps getting better and better.There is so much pressure on this bloke but every game he makes the right decisions.” -Bryan Fletcher on Ash Taylor
“I just wanted to see the effort in the boys and I wasn’t seeing that in that first half which really disappointed me,” Coach Brennan on his halftime message
‘I’m a professional footballer and it’s not my preference [to play hooker] if I’m being honest but if the coaches think I can do a job there then so be it,” Aidan Sezer on playing Hooker
Gold Coast Titans 30
Tries: Proctor, Elgey, Sami, Copley, Hurrell
Goals: Gordon 5/6
Canberra Raiders 28
Tries: Havili, Wighton, Whitehead, Paulo, Leilua
Goals: Croker 4/5
Drop Goals: N/A
Titans team: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Dale Copley, 4 Konrad Hurrell, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 Kane Elgey, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 Jai Arrow, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Leilani Latu, 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Ryan James (c), 13 Bryce Cartwright. Interchange: 14 Mitch Rein, 15 Max King, 16 Will Matthews, 17 Morgan Boyle. Reserves: 18 Joe Greenwood, 19 Jai Whitbread, 20 Tyronne Roberts Davis, 21 Aj Brimson
Raiders team: 1 Jack Wighton, 2 Nick Cotric, 3 Jarrod Croker (c), 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Aiden Sezer, 7 Sam Williams, 8 Junior Paulo, 9 Siliva Havili, 10 Shannon Boyd, 11 Josh Papalii, 12 Joseph Tapine, 13 Elliott Whitehead. Interchange: 14 Blake Austin, 15 Luke Bateman, 16 Dunamis Lui, 17 Iosia Soliola. Reserves: 18 Charlie Gubb, 19 Brad Abbey, 20 Royce Hunt, 21 Craig Garvey http://gty.im/930358850
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