The Gold Coast Titans lead the Canberra Raiders 10-6 at Skilled Park Robina after a patchy half of Rugby League, the quality of NRL being played a little disappointing as both sides arm wrestle to get the upper hand.
In front of a healthy home Gold Coast crowd, it was the plucky Raiders who got off to the stronger start – Colin Best taking a gift intercept from Mat Rogers to race 80m and get the Green Machine off to the best possible start.
The early try seemed to give the Raiders that little confidence spike they need, suddenly the away side looking the goods as they strung together some nice passing. New fullback Bronx Goodwin looking particularly impressive in the Canberra line-up, keeping busy and runninng the ball back for good metres.
The Titans took their chances soon after, big prop Luke Bailey popping up from no where to ground a Scott Prince bomb that was spilled by Joel Monaghan. The Titans needing the score to keep themselves in contention as the Raiders were continuing to build in confidence.
With the Gold Coast now on the board, it was their turn to run away with momentum – however, their next try should have been disallowed. Referee Ben Cummins and his assistances missing a massive forward pass from Mat Rogers to Mark Minichiello, with Mini hitting the ball at speed and putting Luke O’Dwyer in to score.
The Titans well and truly back and looking like the favourites the bookies said they were. Nathan Friend really starting to light up hooker, the little man scooting everywhere and giving the Raiders defenders nightmares.
As the Gold Coast gained the advantage, several errors and concentration lapses from both sides saw the tempo drop and the game start swinging in the balance.
As half time neared, the Raiders mounted some good raids with Colin Best going in to score off a nice Canberra backline movement only to be pulled back by the video referee. In another 50/50 call, the video assistant looked to get this one wrong. Best putting his foot within millimeters of the sideline – but video angles proving inconclusive. It was a classic case of ‘benefit of the doubt’ but the video ref choosing to award a no-try forcing punters and supporters to scratch their head yet again.
The Titans hanging on and going into the sheds at 10-6.
In the second half, both sides came out with physical intentions. There were some big hits, and consistent hard collisions. The tensions flaring when Michael Weyman threw in a dirty late elbow to the head of Luke O’Dwyer. The little Titans centre getting up ok, but soon after copping a heavy Troy Thomson front on shoulder charge and falling awkwardly, ending up in a ‘crusher tackle’ position and remaining groggy for several minutes.
But while the tough stuff was happening, it was the Titans who were playing the smarter footy. A rampaging try to back rower Anthony Laffranchi gave them even more breathing space at 14-6, the lead ensuring the Raiders had to score twice to win.
The Raiders weren’t helped by some shocking referee calls. They were hurt by the video referee in the first half, then some poor calls by Ben Cummins in regards to forward passes hurt them dearly. Captain Alan Tongue understandably frustrated by the poor decisions that were hurting his team.
The Titans took the possession they were given and were in again at the 60th minute mark, Mat Rogers again heavily involved – receiving the ball from a Scott Prince ‘fake and go, fake and go play’ made famous at the Tigers – Prince eventually offloading to Rogers who stepped twice from 8m out and offloaded to Daniel Conn under the posts to give the Titans a 20-6 lead and ensuring they would keep their 100% home record in tact.
The Canberra Raiders to their credit remained energetic, keeping enthusiasm high and trying to forge their way back into the game. Joel Monaghan looking the only scoring threat though, the Raiders needing to get him involved and quickly.
In the 77th minute, with the game seemingly out of reach for the Raiders – frustration really crept in, the explosive Michael Weyman living up to his firebrand reputation and unloading on an unsuspecting Daniel Conn after a regulation tackle. Weyman and Conn exchanging words in the tackle, then big Weyman rising to his feet with the ball and letting loose with some punches – connecting directly with Conn and splitting him open.
It was on.
Weymann and Conn going toe to toe in a fight scene rarely seen these days in the NRL, the majority of team players getting involved and the heating exchange threatening to become a full on melee as splinter fights errupted.
After it eventually stopped, the video referee checked the footage and it clearly showed Weyman reacting to a mere verbal exchange between him and Conn – the referee amazingly sending Weyman off for his explosive reaction. Weyman certainly deserving of 10 minutes in the sin-bin, but the send off probably went over board. The big Raiders prop trotting off the field with his nose split open.
Daniel Conn however was worst for wear, the Titans forward badly split open from the Weyman boxing bout but it was the Gold Coast to have the last laugh. Scoring quickly from the penalty they received and against 12 men – they put on a try in the corner to make it 26-6 their way.
With Weyman off the field, the Titans ramped it up and scored again in the dying minutes. Mark Minichiello getting an impressive try after the Gold Coast moved it through 7 sets of hands to score and convert the nice try.
The Titans remaining unbeaten at Robina and certainly stamping their home ground as a graveyard for visiting teams.