Canberra Raiders 44, iSelect Gold Coast Titans 22 at GIO Stadium
The Titans under-20s spoiled their most impressive half of football this season with costly second-half errors which saw the Canberra Raiders come from behind to post their first victory of the season at GIO Stadium, running out 44-22 winners.
Titans coach Ben Woolf would have been extremely pleased with his side’s improved effort in attack and defence in the first 40 minutes, which saw them go to the break leading for the first time in their three matches, by 16-10. They were in reasonably control for the first 37 minutes but conceded a try just before half-time after leading 16-6.
It was a much more confident and controlled start by our boys, holding possession and rolling up the field effectively. When second-rower Caleb Morehu was sin-binned in the fifth minute it looked like the Raiders would take advantage but they spilled the ball after getting over the line.
In a wonderful strike back, the Titans worked play up-field in the next set with fullback Jahrome Hughes brilliantly chipping over the top and regathering for a try under the posts. Deacon Fletcher converted for a 6-0 lead after eight minutes.
The Raiders hit back to level the scores through skipper and second-rower Patrick Mago (which he converted). But with the Titans back to 13 men, they went ahead in the 21st minute when centre Jaiden Hawkes crossed in the right corner from a smart short-side set play from a scrum, for a 10-6 lead.
Lock Parahi Wilson put the visitors further ahead when he scored from a bust down the middle from second-rower Jackson Clarke who was also very strong defensively in the first half. Fletcher’s conversion made it 16-6.
However a rare error in the first half saw the Raiders gain possession inside the Titans’ quarter and the Raiders went over less than two minutes before the break for 16-10 despite the Titans being the better side during their best 40 minutes of the season.
Unfortunately the ball control sagged immediately after the teams resumed for the second half, with a simple dropped ball 25m from the Titans line giving the Raiders possession, and they scored in the next set to level the scores.
Sadly, Raiders’ tries flowed from there – four in the first 22 minutes of the second half to undo all the excellent work from our boys in the first session. The score blew out to 32-16 – a 22-point turnaround in as many minutes.
With 13 minutes remaining right winger Zac Spring scored from a neat cross-field kick from Daniel Schwass and Deacon Fletcher’s conversion put the Titans back in the game at 32-22.
But the Raiders, again on the back of poor ball control by the Titans, scored two tries in the final seven minutes to run away with the match, 42-22.
We had some good performers however, with Clarke busy all game, Jayden Conners proving a threat out of dummy-half and prop Mitch Sharp proving a real handful with his off-loading and strong carries.
Canberra 44 (Mago 2, Fidow-Kele, Pangai-Junior, Hurst, Wheeler, McIlwrick, Schuback tries; Mago 6 goals) beat Titans 22 (Hughes, Hawkes, Wilson, Spring tries; Fletcher 3 goals).