A depleted Titans outfit missing the likes of Jai Arrow and Kevin Proctor started with plenty of promise, but the Raiders were devastating once they found their groove, taking an 18 point halftime lead and equaling their season best 36 points.
After slow starts to each half, conceding the first try in both, Canberra piled on the points when it mattered led by five-eighth Jack Wighton.
Gold Coast made their early statement off the back of Tanah Boyd’s in-goal grubber, a sharp and deceitful bounce making a fool of Nick Cotric and falling perfectly for Phillip Sami.
Cotric made amends minutes later, benefiting from some Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad brilliance to find himself isolated in the right corner after a lethal double pump cut-out ball.
Jack Wighton masterminded Canberra’s second try, running around to get what he gave from Elliott Whitehead, before using Jordan Rapana as his pawn to break the line and put the Raiders in front.
Canberra’s third was credited to more Wighton brilliance, this time stepping his way to his second double of the season (both against Gold Coast) inside the opening half-hour of play.
Tom Starling capped off a stellar half with his first NRL try, showing the ball out of dummy half then lunging over the stripe.
Failing to maintain their first-half intensity, an underwhelming 15 minutes from Canberra left the door slightly ajar for a Gold Coast comeback.
Jamal Fogarty and Alexander Brimson combined to put a Titans foot through that door: Brimson forcing and swiveling his way to the line, and cut the margin to two tries.
That try snapped the Raiders back into action with a warranted quick reply from Hudson Young, bullying his way over the line.
Gold Coast still had the slightest sniff, but dropped off. First, it was Tyrone Peachey knocking-on at the back of the scrum, then soon after a poor Phillip Sami pass was stolen out of the air by Cotric to earn a double of his own.
Playing for their pride, the Titans lifted late and Keegan Hipgrave hit Peachey’s pass at speed, busting over from close range.
Canberra’s game management sealed the result, taking a penalty goal and then winding down the clock with tactical kicks.
The Titans showed some positive signs and took control of the game for patches, but it wasn’t enough to match it with the Raiders over 80 minutes.
The moment of the game, and arguably the most decisive, was an inspiring chase from Josh Papalii early in the second half.
Fogarty caught the ball in-goal and blazed away for his 20-metre tap, catching Canberra off guard. There was nothing but fresh air between him and four points until Papalii motored down the slighter half back, throwing himself forward and completing one of the ankle taps of the year.
What a play Papalii!
Brimson led the way for the Titans with four tackle breaks and 100 first-half metres. Gold Coast come up against the Dragons next Friday night and could be a chance to pick up their fifth win of the year.
Wighton’s dazzling first-half double set the tone for Canberra’s night and he was instrumental to their valuable half time buffer. Cotric broke nine tackles to go with his double, and Ryan Sutton ran for 206 metres.
The Raiders have clinched fourth sport for now and keep winning games in Josh Hodgson’s absence. They’re looming larger by the week and have a very winnable game against the Bulldogs next Sunday, before a crunch match to more than likely decide fourth spot against reigning premiers the Sydney Roosters.