Raiders fans turn backs as over-confidence strikes again
Titans hammer hapless Raiders
Joel Thompson show his disappointment after the loss. Photo: Rohan Thomson
World beaters one week, cannon fodder the next.
The Canberra Raiders' consistency issues reared their ugly head again after they produced one of their most disappointing efforts of the year in a 38-26 loss to Gold Coast at Canberra Stadium yesterday.
After clinical back-to-back wins, including last week's 40-12 upset in Melbourne, the Raiders were heavy favourites to notch up a third straight victory.
But some Raiders fans in the 8240 crowd booed the players at half-time after the Titans racked up a 22-4 lead, with many heading to the turnstiles well before the match was over.
It was the lowest home attendance since 6500 watched the Raiders thrash the Panthers 74-12 in round 22, 2008.
Canberra only avoided the blowout it deserved through an ordinary goalkicking day from Gold Coast halfback Scott Prince (three from eight attempts) and three late Raiders tries.
The Raiders were never in the hunt as the Titans ran in eight tries to five on the back of a big two-try game from former Canberra fullback William Zillman, prop Luke Bailey (184m) and strong efforts from halves Aidan Sezer and Scott Prince.
The loss is a savage blow to Canberra's finals hopes - the Raiders could have moved to within two points of the top eight with a win.
Canberra began well enough when a short pass from fullback Reece Robinson found straight-running centre Blake Ferguson, who scored in the third minute.
But from there it was all the Titans, who continually exposed poor Canberra defence on both edges.
Afterwards Raiders coach David Furner stopped short of saying his side was overconfident or complacent. But Canberra clearly has mentality issues it needs to resolve after again failing to perform in a game it was expected to win.
Its fans must be tearing their hair out that their side can beat the competition leaders on the road, but fail to beat the Titans at home.
''I don't know if that first try by us was a good thing, because I think we felt it was just going to happen,'' Furner said. ''We had two good wins and we have a habit of not starting well after those, [we get] a little bit comfortable.''
Raiders skipper David Shillington was unsure whether his side had put the cart before the horse.
''I don't know if we got ahead of ourselves, it's hard to say,'' Shillington said. ''The thing that's won us the last two games has been our completions which have been around 80-85 per cent [yesterday's was 73 per cent] and once again our on-line defence was really poor.
''As captain I have to lead by example, Furnsey gave me a spray at half-time about getting up and getting the boys forward off the line.
Shillington described the team being booed by its own fans as ''obviously not good''.
''I was pretty excited about our momentum the last couple of weeks and our intention was to have a good win for our home fans and give them something to cheer about after a tough 18 months,'' Shillington said.
Raiders second-rower Josh Papalii left the field late in the match with a knee injury, but the club is confident he has only suffered a cork and bone bruising. Sezer will also have scans this week after failing to complete the game with an injured hand.
Gold Coast coach John Cartwright said his side was inspired by the courage of returning forwards Bailey and Nate Myles, both outstanding despite carrying injuries into the match.
''It sends a good message to everyone else in the side, to do it under duress sends a message to everyone that there's always more in you,'' Cartwright said.