Raiders 12 Titans 24
Solid defence: Jarrod Croker is wrapped up by the Titans. Photo: Getty Images
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart is working feverishly to rid the Raiders of the soft tries which have plagued them in recent seasons.
He needed just seven words to make his point clear when asked if he was disappointed his side conceded two tries from dummy half in Sunday’s 24-12 home loss to Gold Coast.
“Especially when you work on it all week," Stuart said.
Raiders v Titans at Canberra Stadium
Terry Campese shows his frustration at full-time. Photo: Melissa Adams
While the Raiders’ defence was mostly strong in what proved a grinding battle of attrition, Beau Falloon and Paul Carter’s four-pointers would be frustrating Stuart most.
In front of a disappointing crowd of 9636 for its first home game, Canberra was disjointed in attack and its last tackle options were awful at times.
The Raiders won the penalty count 15-8 and had enough ball to win two games, but the desperate Titans repelled wave after wave of attack.
Stinging after a 42-12 home meltdown to the Tigers last week, the Titans ground out a victory minus injured playmaker Aidan Sezer, inspired by co-skippers Nate Myles (53 tackles, 107 metres) and Greg Bird (126 metres, 22 tackles).
The defeat was compounded by the loss of winger Edrick Lee to a lateral ligament injury in the first half.
He will have scans early this week to determine how long he may be sidelined.
It’s a blow to a Raiders side already without one of its main strike weapons in Josh Papalii (ankle) for the next few weeks.
It also set an unwanted new record of five straight home defeats for the Raiders.
Canberra must lift for daunting road trips to South Sydney and Penrith next up.
Much like the Titans, Souths will also be stinging after a shock lock to the Tigers on Friday.
“We had plenty of footy and got a bit impatient with it at times, a bit frantic,’’ Stuart said.
“We knew they were going to be a very desperate team and it could have gone either way, they hung in longer.’’
Canberra will regain lock Shaun Fensom from suspension for next week’s Souths clash, and they missed his work off the ball badly in attack.
“We lost a bit of punch with Papa [Josh Papalii] and Fenno but it’s certainly no excuse, we lost our way in attack,’’ Stuart said.
Dane Tilse admitted the Raiders shot themselves in the foot by allowing two dummy half tries.
“They were soft tries which really cost us,’’ Tilse said.
“Myself included, I didn’t get low enough and we spoke during the week their two hookers are both runners.’’
Gold Coast also lost fullback William Zillman to a hamstring issue in the second half.
Despite playing well below their best, Canberra led 12-6 at half-time, but a Gold Coast try and penalty goal gave them a 14-12 lead.
Livewire halfback Albert Kelly did the rest with two late opportunistic tries to ensure Gold Coast secured its third straight win over Canberra.
Despite the fact he scored his first try of the season, Gold Coast shut down Raiders fullback Anthony Milford and they seemed bereft of a Plan B.
Gold Coast coach John Cartwright was proud of his team’s reaction after being subject to stinging criticism after the Tigers loss.
“It was a long hard week for everyone involved, it was a real tight affair,’’ Cartwright said.
“I thought a lot of things went against us and they dug deep.’’
Returning from a rib injury prop David Shillington had a big game for Canberra, while Paul Vaughan was also impressive filling in for the suspended Shaun Fensom at lock.