Runners up Canberra Raiders opened up their 2020 campaign with a comfortable 24-6 result against Gold Coast Titans tonight at Canberra Stadium.
Clive Churchill Medalist Jack Wighton picked up where he left off in 2019, scoring twice to propel the Canberra Raiders to an irresistable first half performance where they led 18-nil, before Elliot Whitehead added an insurance score for a bright start for the Green Machine.
Coming off their Grand Final heartbreak, Canberra produced an almost perfect first half which saw Wighton dazzle with his footwork for a pair of scores then young interchange forward Emre Gular made it 18-nil headed to the break.
Gold Coast hit back through Anthony Don, the veteran winger became the the Titans all-time leading try-scorer with his 76th four-pointer. It was overall, a performance which will leave new coach Justin Holbrook pulling out his hair as he admitted his side "beat themselves in the first half."
For the Raiders, it was a smooth debut for English half George Williams, who was calm and worked well with Wighton and international team mate Josh Hodgson, in the spine as the ends of both halves give them something to work on for Round two.
It was another Englishman who handed the Raiders back their 18-point advantage when Elliott Whitehead steamed onto a short ball from try-scorer Gular, as Jarrod Croker booted four goals from four to become the seventh player to pass 2000 points.
The issues which blighted the Titans wooden spoon season in 2019, seemed to persist in the opener, as patches of good play bookmarked by errors in the wrong position, highlighted by Bryce Cartwright's ill-advised chip kick on halfway.
One positive they will take is Don becoming the all-time tryscorer but a long year might loom again for the Gold Coast Titans side.