Canberra Raiders: Tries: Anthony Milford (2), Brenko Lee, Jarrod Croker, Shaun Fensom, Josh McCrone. Goals: Croker 6/6.
Gold Coast Titans: Tries: Kalifa Faifai Loa (2), Ben Roberts, Ben Gordon. Goals: Gordon 1/4.
Canberra Raiders fullback Anthony Milford produced a masterful performance to guide Canberra to an surprise 36-20 win at the home of the Gold Coast Titans.
The 20-year-old, who rejected a contract offer from the Raiders last month to sign with Brisbane for next year, underlined how much he will be missed in 2015 after a near faultless performance at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday.
Milford dominated the first half, scoring one try and having a playing a key role in two others as the visitors went to half time with a 20-10 lead. Late on, he scored his second try of the game to seal a superb win for the Raiders and end a four match losing streak.
The result kept Canberra’s slim hopes of securing a play off place alive, while it was a big blow to the Titans who squandered a golden opportunity to move back within touching distance of the top eight. The loss means that the Titans’run of consecutive home defeats stands at six in a row.
A promising start to the game for the Raiders saw them open the scoring in the eighth minute when Milford stepped through a gap before flicking a pass to young winger Brenko Lee who crossed near the posts.
The home side hit back seven minutes later as James Roberts crossed to reduce the margin to two points and they took the lead soon after.
After scooping up a Terry Campese grubber, Titans man mountain Dave Taylor stormed 70 metres down field to give the home side momentum and in the next phase of play, he produced a superb offload to put Kalifa Faifai Loa over in the corner. Kevin Gordon’s touchline conversion put the Titans ahead 10-6 but the Raiders regained the lead when Milford started and finished a fantastic team move.
The Broncos’ new recruit was in amongst the action again on the stroke of half time, producing a sublime no-look tap-on for Jarrod Croker to crash over under the posts and the centre converted his own try to rack up 14 unanswered points for the Raiders.
The Titans did all they could to haul themselves back into the game as the video referee controversially ruled out a Maurice Blair try with 25 minutes left, but the Titans were not to be denied a minute later when Kevin Gordon somehow managed to stay in the field of play as he planted the ball down in the corner.
But, the Raiders regained their composure and they finally sealed the win with a try from Shaun Fensom who scorched through a gap in the Titans’ defence to cross 13 minutes from the end.
Further tries to half back Josh McCrone and Milford, the undoubted an of the match, added extra gloss to the scoreline before Faifai Loa scored his second which was little more than a consolation for the home fans.