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Exciting attacking football was enough for the Canberra Raiders to get home over the Gold Coast Titans today, the boys from the nation's capital holding out a strong second half Titans comeback to win 34-28 in front of 9,800 fans at Canberra Stadium.
The first half was all Canberra, the home side putting on a show for the local crowd with tries to both Josh Miller and Phil Graham in the opening 20 minutes. The Titans hit back through Anthony Laffranchi before both Raiders tryscorers doubled their accounts, as well as a try to Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, robbing Miller of a chance for a hat-trick just before halftime.
The Titans responded well to Cartwright's halftime rev-up, scoring the first two tries in the second half, and within 12 points of the Raiders, things began to look shaky.
A calming try to the Raiders through Bronson Harrison then seemingly put the result beyond doubt before a couple of late tries in the last ten minutes brought the Titans within six points again - Chris Walker and Preston Campbell with some fantastic efforts to get the Titans back in the game.
Last ditch efforts from the visitors came up empty however, and the Raiders were able to hold on for a nailbiting win, despite having led comfortably most of the match.
Canberra will head to Newcastle next week aiming to continue the form they've displayed at home against competition heavyweights in recent weeks, while the Titans have an eight-day layoff before they face the Parramatta Eels who will again be battling to keep their season alive.
Match Details Canberra Raiders 34 def Gold Coast Titans 28 Round 17 - Sunday July 5th, 2009 02:00pm Venue: Canberra Stadium Referee: Gavin Badger & Chris James Sideline Officials: Steve Chiddy & Adam Reid Video Referee: Chris Ward Crowd: 9,800 Halftime: Raiders 28 Titans 6
Canberra Raiders 34 Tries: Phil Graham (2), Josh Miller (2), Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Bronson Harrison Goals: Terry Campese (5/6) Gold Coast Titans 28 Tries: Anthony Laffranchi, David Mead (2), Chris Walker, Preston Campbell Goals: Scott Prince (4/5)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Terry Campese (Raiders) 2 Points: Chris Walker (Titans) 1 Point: Phil Graham (Raiders)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the game as it happens - Raiders v Titans forum discussion - click here!
The sun is shining in the Australian capital today and while you might look at the ladder and think this clash hasn't got much potential - you'd be wrong. The Raiders are coming off a strong win over Storm at the same time and place last Sunday, and are in good form despite their place on the ladder. Meanwhile the Titans have been winning consistently this year, but are missing some key personnel today and certainly would not be used to the cooler climate that the old Bruce Stadium offers.
The Titans and all previous entities from the Gold Coast have never won in Canberra, a statistic the home side will be wanting to keep intact.
Team changes - just positional for the Raiders, Tongue will start at hooker, Plum shifts to lock-forward and Glen Buttriss will take Plum's spot on the bench. The Titans are missing Mat Rogers and Aaron Cannings from the side named on Tuesday, Zillman will move to fullback to cover Campbell who will take Rogers' place at five-eighth. The forward pack shuffles around, Josh Graham coming in for Cannings, Matt White reverting to the bench. Sam Tagatease and Bodene Thompson are the new bench players.
RAIDERS: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Justin Carney 3. Jarod Croker 4. Joel Monaghan 5. Phil Graham 6. Terry Campese 7. Marc Herbert 8. David Shillington 13. Alan Tongue (c) 10. Troy Thompson 11. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs 12. Bronson Harrison 15. Nigel Plum Interchange: 9. Glen Buttriss 14. Trevor Thurling 16. Josh Miller 17. Dane Tilse TITANS: 17. William Zillman 2. Kevin Gordon 3. Esikeli Tonga 4. Brett Delaney 5. Chris Walker 1. Preston Campbell 7. Scott Prince 12. Brad Meyers 9. Nathan Friend 10. Michael Henderson 11. Anthony Laffranchi 16. Josh Graham 13. Daniel Conn Interchange: 8. Matthew White 18. David Mead 21. Sam Tagataese 22. Bodene Thompson
Some attention on William Zillman as he returns to his former home. The Titans will wear their white away strip today, the Raiders in the famous lime green. Stick around for kickoff, which will take place shortly.
Team on the park, we're ready for action on NRL Sunday!
Kickoff: Play begins, David Shillington taking the first hitup for Canberra.
1 min: Zillman fields his first kick and the Canberra crowd let them know where he belongs with some loud jeering.
2 min: The ball is sent wide and Esi Tonga is away, he gives it to Kevin Gordon, they go within five metres, a ball in-field and Esi Tonga tries tapping it back, the ball then rolls into touch. Early signs good for the Titans, worrying right-side defence by Canberra.
6 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Monaghan sweeps on a loose pass from the Titans, Scott Prince brings him down. Two tackles later the Raiders spread it to the left, Campese runs at the line before throwing it over his head for Phil Graham to score in the corner. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese unsuccessful, it's bounced off the upright. Canberra Raiders 4-0
9 min: A Titans error and some poor defence gives Canberra the ball and a chance to attack. The Raiders are looking very dangerous early.
11 min: PENALTY Raiders - the first one of the game goes against Josh Graham for holding down in the play-the-ball.
12 min: A forward pass from Campese ends the Raiders attack on this occasion.
14 min: PENALTY Titans - Canberra have been hard done by here, Herbert puts a rotten bomb up after pressure from Nathan Friend, who had come from an offside position. Instead the Titans get the penalty as the player who took the bomb was tackled before he hit the ground.
16 min: A great kick from Scott Prince sees Phil Graham forced touch-ingoal. Line drop out. End of the next set sees Chris Walker put a grubber in down the sideline which forces another drop out!
17 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Titans try. Daniel Conn has buried over from dummy-half. Questions on grounding and obstruction. Justin Carney is down in back-play, he won't feature again today by the looks, all sorts of problems with his leg. NO TRY.
Play has stopped, Carney is in a very bad way, his boot has been cut off and his foot strapped immediately. Tragic stuff for the young bloke, he's in a lot of pain.
18 min: PENALTY Raiders - the home side earns a penalty from the no-try ruling, an obstruction called against Conn.
19 min: PENALTY Raiders - Zillman never got square as he dived on the ball from marker. Raiders with a full set on the Titans line now.
20 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Marc Herbert goes close, the Titans defence do enough to hold him out, but the next ball goes to Josh Miller who rampages over to score his first try this year, right beside the posts. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. Canberra Raiders 10-0
23 min: A mistake at dummy-half by Jarrod Croker, a chance now for the Titans to hit back with the ball in good field position.
24 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Anthony Laffranchi scores in much the same way Josh Miller did for Canberra moments ago, taking a ball at first receiver close to the line and getting over a few defenders to score. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Canberra Raiders 10-6
27 min: Terrible last tackle play from the Titans after Joel Monaghan turned possession over to give them more field position. Brett Delaney then puts a silly pass into touch, the Raiders off the hook.
29 min: TRY Canberra Raiders The Raiders score a try very much like the one the Bulldogs scored through Bryson Goodwin last week, spreading it wide, the centre (Jarrod Croker) making the first burst before offloading it to the winger (Phil Graham). Graham puts the afterburners on and races away for his second try. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. Canberra Raiders 16-6
33 min: A forward pass to Sam Tagatease for the Titans gives the Raiders a chance now, 30m out. Alan Tongue spills a pass on tackle three and the Titans are out of trouble for now.
35 min: Another Titans error gives Canberra back the ball in sight of the line.
36 min: TRY Canberra Raiders No tries in the last 81 matches for Josh Miller and suddenly within one half of football, he has a double! He bulldozed through some Titans defence to extend the Raiders' lead. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. Canberra Raiders 22-6
39 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Blues aspirant Tom Learoyd-Lahrs gets the try just before the break, the Raiders playing some fantastic football here. Lots of questions to be asked at the break for the men from the Gold Coast. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. Canberra Raiders 28-6
HALFTIME: Canberra Raiders 28 Gold Coast Titans 6 What a fantastic half of footy from the Canberra Raiders! Playing an expansive game, they've made the Titans look akin to the effort South Sydney put in last night in defence, crumbling almost every time the Raiders have had a go at their line. A Campese masterclass is in session for the second straight week here in Canberra. Cartwright left for the sheds an angry man, I'd hate to be one of the seventeen heading back to the away dressing room. Stay tuned for another half of exciting league action, just around the corner.
Second half kickoff: The Titans take a short and low kickoff to restart the game.
Injury update: Bodene Thompson is out for the Titans, while Justin Carney has a fractured tibia, he's on his way to hospital for scans.
42 min: A great break from Phil Graham up the left edge and the Raiders have another attacking set.
44 min: The Titans are on the attack but the fifth tackle kick goes to Jarrod Croker, who runs 60 metres untouched before Chris Walker helps wrap him up. A few tackles later Tongue knocks it on 10m out.
46 min: PENALTY Titans - two-time tryscorer Josh Miller is penalised for a lifting tackle after putting Laffranchi on his back. The visitors with an attacking chance but they don't use it, a kick on the third goes dead.
47 min: VIDEO REFEREE Possible Raiders try. Marc Herbert shows incredible pace down the touchline, we're checking the grounding, touch and the corner post. Doesn't look likely... NO TRY.
49 min: VIDEO REFERE Possible Titans try. David Mead looks to have scored in the corner, can't see any reason not to award this one...
50 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans David Mead goes over with a beautiful one-handed put down in the corner. Great try for the Titans, but can they pressure the Raiders further? Conversion attempt by Scott Prince unsuccessful. Canberra Raiders 28-10
53 min: PENALTY Titans - Tom Learoyd Lahrs (Raiders) is ON REPORT for a raised elbow. Not much in it though. The next play sees the Titans drop the ball cold, justice seemingly prevails.
55 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Chris Walker gets between two defenders and David Mead is there in support to take the pass. He runs 40 metres to score under the posts, the Titans not done with yet... Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Canberra Raiders 28-16
59 min: Scott Prince sends a long ball for the touchline, it goes out but he protests it touched a Canberra player. No luck, Raiders scrum.
60 min: A strip by the Titans on the Raiders means another incomplete set for the Raiders, just 3 completions from 8 sets so far since halftime.
62 min: Great defence on the goal-line by the Raiders, denying the Titans a try on the last. Laffranchi is held up.
63 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Raiders try Thurling looks to have knocked it on off a bomb, anyones guess as to what they'll rule here. just one replay! Decision pending... NO TRY. Knock-on against the Raiders, Titans scrum.
66 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Good change of direction from Terry Campese and the ball finds it's way to Bronson Harrison who is running a fantastic angle, he pushes past a number of defenders to score under the posts. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. The Raiders now 18 points in front. Canberra Raiders 34-16
71 min: PENALTY Titans - too long on the tackled player by the Raiders defenders, another chance for the Titans to add spice to the contest.
72 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Chris Walker storms over and looks to have got the ball down. The margin's down to 12 points with about seven minutes left, as the conversion attempt by Scott Prince is successful. Canberra Raiders 34-22
75 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans The Titans are carving them up all over the park and Preston Campbell cuts loose and goes in under the posts! The Raiders are falling apart here, only six points in it with five left! Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Canberra Raiders 34-28
77 min: The Raiders are looking very tired in attack as they work the ball out of their own half. The chase on the fifth tackle kick by Campese isn't crash-hot either, the Titans roll over halfway by the third tackle.
78 min: Esi Tonga can't take a last-tackle bomb for the Titans, the Raiders out of gaol again.
79 min: Enterprising fifth-tackle stuff from Campese on the fifth but Phil Graham can't get to it.
80 min: PENALTY Titans - final seconds, Campbell taken out after a kick. The Titans go wide! A chip kick... Croker has it! Game over, Raiders win!
FULLTIME: Canberra Raiders 34 Gold Coast Titans 28 What a comeback from the Titans to result in such a close finish. Both sides played some fantastic footy in respective halves, each dominating at different times.