Andrew Pelechaty reviews the Raiders’ record-equalling comeback against the Titans …
Canberra Raiders 24
Tries: Semi Valemei (39), Matthew Timoko 2 (46, 50), Sebastian Kris (60), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (74)
Goals: Brad Schneider (47, 75)
Gold Coast Titans 22
Tries: Phillip Sami (13), Brian Kelly (22), Beau Fermor (28), Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (35)
Goals: Toby Sexton (23, 29, 37)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Both the Raiders and Titans entered this game with points to prove: Canberra would be looking to redeem themselves after last week’s horrific loss in Townsville (and atone for last year’s 44-6 home loss to the Titans), while the Titans would be looking to build on their tight win against the NZ Warriors.
It took 13 minutes for the first try to be scored, with Phillip Sami benefitting from a Titans right-to-left spread, exposing Canberra’s edge defence for a 4-0 lead.
The Raiders tried to return serve, but crucial errors close to the line hurt them.
The Titans extended their lead nine minutes later when Brian Kelly scored off a lucky bounce from a grubber. Toby Sexton converted to give the Titans a 10-0 lead.
Beau Fermor made it three Gold Coast first half tries, bursting through some soft Canberra defence. At 16-0 it was already looking like a repeat of last year’s Bruce massacre.
Sexton nearly increased Canberra’s pain, barging over close to the line, but The Bunker denied him. It was a rare reprieve for the struggling Raiders, whose horrible discipline gave the Titans too many piggyback penalties.
The skipper Tino Fa’asuamaleaui scored the Titans’ fourth try of the half for a 22-0 lead.
The Raiders finally got on the board through Semi Valemei, burrowing over after a nice pass from the returning Jordan Rapana. Would that try give the Raiders some hope for a miracle comeback, or was it just a plug in the dam wall?
HALF-TIME: Canberra Raiders 4 Gold Coast Titans 22Embed from Getty Images
The Milk came to life early in the second half (probably spurred by the frowning of a lifetime from Ricky Stuart at half-time), with a spirited chase from a Jack Wighton kick earning them a goal-line drop out.
The Raiders converted that good work when Matt Timoko scored off a nice Wighton grubber in the next set. Brad Schneider converted to cut the margin to 22-10.
Timoko got his second quickly with a beautiful offload from Tom Starling to Rapana, who passed to Timoko. While Schiender missed the conversion, the Titans’ lead was cut to 22-14 with 30 minutes left. Could Canberra pull off a ”Reverse Faders” and come from 22-0 down to win?
The Titans came close to scoring after a unsuccessful Raiders Captain’s Challenge, but Sami dropped the ball close to the try-line.
Sebastian Kris scored in the left corner to draw the Milk closer, with a beautiful cut-out pass from Schneider. While Schneider missed the conversion, the Titans’ lead was only 22-18 with 20 minutes left.
A desperate scramble from Starling saved a possible Titans try, which spoke volumes about Canberra’s vastly improved effort and momentum.
Canberra hit the lead when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad pounced on a nice Schneider grubber. Schneider converted to give Canberra an almost unbelievable 24-22 lead with five minutes left.
With the Titans going for one last shot in the final minute, a rib-tickler from Valemei forced a mistake and sealed an amazing win.
It’s the third time Canberra have won from 22 points down: they previously did it against the Wests Tigers in 2015 and Newcastle in 2016. As for the Titans, they’ll be wondering how they let that game slip after a dominant first half.
FULL-TIME: Canberra Raiders 24 Gold Coast Titans 22
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Brad Schneider (Raiders), 2 pts – Jack Wighton (Raiders), 1 pt – Tom Starling (Raiders)
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