Needing as many wins as possible to stay in that finals hunt, the Canberra Raiders did their chances a world of good with a 36-24 win over the Gold Coast Titans.
Led once again by stalwarts Joseph Tapine and Jack Wighton, the Raiders enterprising play allowed them to come away with the victory to continue their winning streak.
The opening try came inside five minutes when Jack Wighton received the ball off a scrum play and found Matt Timoko screaming through to score.
The Titans were able to dig deep, however, and found an equaliser, after Tanah Boyd grubbered ahead for Brian Kelly who was quickest to react to score.
Some lovely attacking play down the right flank by the Raiders saw their second try with both a lovely flick pass and a smart catch the key.
Hudson Young skipped outside his man, offloaded in true Matt Gidley fashion – a trademark flick – and Nick Cotric had it all to do, ball behind him, yet he held on, beat a defender and scored his first.
Cotric would have a second soon after, this time doing it all himself. Spotting the slowness of the markers, he burrowed over from dummy half for a first half double.
The momentum then threatened to turn when it was deemed that influential forward Joseph Tapine had thrown a punch in a biff and he was promptly sent for ten minutes in the bin.
Needing to capitalise, the Titans did so, as Boyd threw a dummy, found a gap and coasted through to narrow the deficit and keep the Titans in the game at the break.
Young then nabbed a try of his own some way into the second half, getting to the ball just before it went out, courtesy of a Jamal Fogarty grubber.
It was a night out for Young as produced another flick pass, this time for Seb Kris to score.
Young found himself in space after Wighton’s break and passed out to Kris for a simple try.
Down but not yet out, the Titans attack needed a spark and it was Beau Fermor who broke the line to create something.
Fermor’s legs failed to find the try line but Jayden Campbell’s on the inside did as he raced away to score.
With the match there for the taking, it was one of the in-form props in the game in Tapine who showed why he is so good.
With some skips and hops and jumps, he burrowed and muscled his way over to score a try. His try would prove too much for the Titans.
Xavier Savage then got in on the assisting action with a nice pass for Kris to seal his second, just to rub further salt into the Titans wounds.
Fermor and Campbell would combine a second time down the Titans left flank but it was too little, too late.
Titans coach Justin Holbrook praised his side’s efforts to start the game but conceded that letting in soft tries is becoming far too regular.
“We fought hard in the first half and then obviously let too many soft tries in and had to chase the game at the end,” Holbrook said.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart commented on the fast nature of the game and how his side has played two teams with only pride to play for now.
That game out there tonight was just real chaotic, fast, throwing the ball around, going side to side,” Stuart said.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Joseph Tapine (CAN)
2. Hudson Young (CAN)
1. Tanah Boyd (GLD)