Injured Raiders winger Edrick Lee. Photo: Melissa Adams
GOLD COAST TITANS 24 (Albert Kelly 2, Beau Falloon, Paul Carter tries; Greg Bird 4 goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 12 (Jarrod Croker, Anthony Milford tries; Croker 2 goals) at Canberra Stadium on Sunday night. Crowd: 9636. Referees: Gavin Badger and Brett Suttor
OUTSIDE BACK DEPTH TESTED
After they parted ways with Blake Ferguson and Josh Dugan, Canberra’s outside back depth was always going to be tested this season. It could be challenged further after winger Edrick Lee went down like he had been shot by a sniper midway through the first half. Jack Wighton’s move from centre to five-eighth this season means an inexperienced player will get an opportunity. Sami Sauiluma, who played a handful of NRL games last year, scored four tries for NRL affiliate Mounties last week. He is the most likely candidate to replace the in-form Lee if he is sidelined.
RAIDERS DISJOINTED IN ATTACK
Early on, Canberra looked almost rudderless in attack and their last tackle options were awful at times. Prop Dane Tilse, the biggest player in the game, was forced to take a kick with Canberra in Gold Coast’s 20-metre zone at one point. Minus influential five-eighth Aidan Sezer, Gold Coast was content to turn the match into a grind in the first half and use their experienced forward pack to roll upfield. The Raiders kept their composure and managed to squeeze out a 12-6 half-time lead, despite being far below their best. Midway through the second half, they had a wealth of ball on Gold Coast’s line but could not find a way through the brick wall.
The Gold Coast did a superb job of getting in star Raiders fullback Anthony Milford’s face early on. They kept a solid defensive line and waited for the teenager with the twinkling feet to come to them. But it took just one piece of magic for the 19-year-old to break the game open. Canberra had four straight sets on Gold Coast’s line late in the first half and could not find a way through. Enter Milford, who swooped on a perfectly timed Wighton pass to score untouched out wide.
BEWARE THE WOUNDED ANIMAL
The Titans have been hammered from pillar to post this week after their meek 42-12 home capitulation to Wests Tigers last week. They would have been counting down the seconds until they could restore pride in the jersey. Canberra will face the exact same situation when it hits the road to play one of the premiership favourites in South Sydney next week. The Bunnies were shock losers to the Tigers on Friday and will be intent on redemption. The loss of Rabbitohs hooker Issac Luke to a shoulder injury helps as he is a perennial tormenter of the Raiders.
NOT ALL SMOOTH SAILING IN DEFENCE
Gold Coast won on the back of desperate defence but it seems Titans skipper Nate Myles was not particularly happy with one teammate’s tackling prowess. As the teams were preparing to head into the sheds at half-time, Myles was overheard saying to referee Gavin Badger: "Put one of our centres in the [sin] bin. He can’t tackle."