Raiders hold off Titans in nail-biter

The Raiders survived a fast-finishing Titans side to win 26-22 and pick up their 10th victory of the year on Saturday afternoon at GIO Stadium.

In a game where momentum shifted constantly and neither team enjoyed periods of prolonged dominance, the result looked confirmed when the Raiders scored eight points in the final six minutes, but a Tino Fa'asuamaleaui try two minutes from time set up a thrilling finish. 

Fullback Sebastian Kris was key for coach Ricky Stuart, with his aerial dominance leading to a first-half try and snuffing out several other promising Gold Coast raids. 

Led by Maroons hopeful Corey Horsburgh and Kiwi Test star Joseph Tapine, the Green Machine pack were huge too, with those two players joining Ata Mariota and Hudson Young in running for over 100 metres. 

Before a ball had even been kicked there was drama for the Titans, who were forced into a last-minute reshuffle when Phillip Sami experienced hamstring tightness in the warm up.

Jojo Fifita came in on the wing and just a minute into the game the Raiders visited his edge and found a try through Albert Hopoate, although he'd later get one back and finish as one of the Gold Coast's better players. 

Kris climbed high to claim the ball for his side's next which doubled the lead, but a few minutes later David Fifita struck back for the visitors. 

The Queensland powerhouse had a second ruled out in the shadows of half-time when the Bunker deemed he had pushed Jamal Fogarty off the ball, meaning the Raiders took a 12-6 lead into the sheds. 

Two minutes into the second period the other Fifita, Jojo, got over in the corner, but just as the comeback seemed to be on a bizarre passage of play deflated the visitors.

Alofiana Khan-Pereira flew into the corner for a try attempt, in which he failed to ground the ball, leaving the Raiders to pick up the live possession and pass to Matthew Timoko who raced 100 metres to score. 

Khan-Pereira did eventually get one with 18 to go, but when Young battled over for a converted try and Croker added a penalty goal a short time later it looked to be done and dusted. 

Big Tino's four-pointer in the last two minutes ensured nobody left the stadium early, but the Raiders held on. 

Match Snapshot 

  • Despite coming out second best on the scoreboard, the Titans enjoyed 53 percent of the ball and completed at a higher rate than the Raiders (75 percent v 72 percent). 
  • Corey Horsburgh got through 55 tackles in his 70 minutes and carried for 113 metres off 12 carries. 
  • Emre Guler was placed on report in the 22nd minute for placing pressure on the neck on a tackle and his captain Elliott Whitehead was cited in the 63 minute for a dangerous tackle. 
  • Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Jaimin Jolliffe were put on reports for dangerous tackles in the 76th and 36th minutes respectively.
  • Pasami Saulo suffered a head knock in the final two minutes of the first half and failed his ensuing HIA. 
  •  The Raiders have now won eight of their past nine games against the Titans.
  • Titans forward Joe Stimson made his 100th NRL appearance in the clash. 

Play of the Game 
The Titans were taught a harsh lesson about playing to the whistle. What could have been an athletic finish in the corner from Alofiana Khan-Pereira was thwarted by a Jamal Fogarty tackle, and with the ball remaining live in the in-goal area the Raiders picked it up and passed to Matthew Timoko, who did the rest. It turned out to be a crucial try in a close game. 




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What They Said 
"I think we probably added to our own frustration. We had a lot of errors in that first half and we found it hard to put a lot of pressure on the Raiders coming out of their own end. We certainly worked hard, but we hard handicapping ourselves at the same time by just the amount of errors." – Interim Titans coach Jim Lenihan.

"We make things very hard for ourselves but they're a very tough bunch, individually and as a group. I thought Corey Horsburgh was outstanding, he could have played out the game but I just wanted to give him three or four minutes. His workload was tremendous." – Raiders coach Ricky Stuart via Fox Sports. 

What's Next 
The Raiders are on the road to the Dragons next week at WIN Stadium, while the Titans are back at home to take on the Dolphins in a local derby and will likely be without several players on Origin duty. 


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Corey Rosser, NRL Reporter