Canberra Raiders NYC team made an emphatic return to GIO Stadium crushing the Gold Coast Titans 44-22.
The Raiders were made to work for the victory after trailing 16-12 at the break, but the team responded to a lacklustre first half by outscoring the Titans five tries to one in the second half to run away with the win.
Canberra started well with Captain Patrick Mago offloading for Ricky Garard who was able to find space to break the Titans line, he found Heffernan with a clever chip kick who was professionally fouled by Titans’ player Caleb Morehu.
Morehu was sent to the sin bin for his professional foul on Heffernan. Gifting the Raiders perfect field position and a spare man.
Despite being a man down it was the Titans who scored first, after managing to hold the Raiders out. Canberra was left to rue their missed opportunity, when Titans fullback Jahrome Hughes showed some good skill with a chip and chase to score under the posts in the 7th minute.
Mago was breaking tackles early and from a scrum he was able to beat two Titans defenders and run 40m to score under the posts, to finally take advantage of the 12 men Titans in the 12th minute, he converted his try to level the scores at 6 all.
Heffernan was again dangerous early finding space along the wing, playing a flick pass to Jake Wheeler, it looked like the Raiders would take the lead, but Hughes was able to deflect the last pass, allowing the Raiders good field position 10 metres out.
The young Raiders were again their own worst enemy dropping the ball five metres from the try line, then allowing the Titans easy metres coming out of their own half.
A repeat set on their own try line was too much for the Raiders with Jaiden Hawkes scoring in the corner for the Titans and they took the lead 10-6 with 22 minutes gone.
After the kick off the Raiders’ gifted the Titans a penalty coming out of defence and were punished when Titans lock Parahi Wilson crossed under the posts in the next set to give the Titans a handy 16-6 lead early on.
After continuous defence in their defensive half, Raiders’ interchange forward Thoren Fidow-Kele was able to score just before the break, to bring the margin back to four after the try was converted by Mago right under the posts, and the Titans went into the break with a 16-12 lead.
The Raiders’ got the perfect start after the break following a Titans error on their own 20. Tevita Pangai Junior was able to crash over three Titans players and tie the game.
This sparked the Raiders’ and the very next set they looked to have scored through Jared McIlwrick, but were unlucky when it was judged he lost the ball over the line.
Canberra chanced their arm and started playing the exciting football we are used to seeing from the young side, Heffernan was in everything showcased his skills. First throwing a great cut-out ball to Lachlan Hurst who scored in the corner to give the Raiders their first lead of the match 20-16, in the 47th minute.
Heffernan then again showed why opposition should pay him respect when he stepped out of a tackle and managed to find Wheeler on the wing to extend the Raiders lead, Mago made the tough kick from the sideline and the Raiders’ suddenly led 26-16 in the 52nd minute.
Canberra’s defensive pressure forced the Titans into another error just outside their 20 metre line, Frawley this time made them pay with a cut-out pass to McIlwrick who strolled over to take the young Raiders’ out to a commanding lead, Mago made no mistakes with the conversion taking the lead to 32-16 in the 62nd minute.
The Titans were able to hit back in the 67th minute when Hurst was unable to diffuse a cross field kick and Lachlan Spring crossed over for the Titans, Deacon Fletcher converted the try and the margin was back to 32-22.
Mago got his 2nd try when he was able to spin out of a tackle and beat some lack lustre Titans defence in the 73rd minute, he converted his own try giving the Raiders a comfortable 16 point lead with 5 minutes remaining.
Trent Schubach put the icing on the cake for the Raiders in the 78th minute, when he fooled the Titans defence with a dummy to then score under the post, Mago converted to take the scores to 44-22.
Canberra 44: Tries: Patrick Mago 2, Fidow-Kele, Pangai, Hurst, Wheeler, McIlwrick; Goals: Mago 5.
Titans: Tries: Hughes, Hawkes, Wilson; Goals: Deacon Fletche 2.