A brilliant individual performance by Nick Cotric sealed a thrilling 34-32 for the Raiders NYC team over the Gold Coast Titans.
Coach Brett White made no late changes to the team that was named on Tuesday, while the Titans made three changes due to injuries.
Having struggled in the heat two weeks ago against the Broncos in Brisbane, the young Raiders made an improved start to the match.
Showing no signs of fatigue after his debut for NSW in the U18’s Origin on Wednesday night, Nick Cotric burst through the Titans defence on the right edge before passing inside to Logan Spaander who crossed for the Raiders first. Woolford converted to give the Raiders an early 6-0 lead.
Only moments later the Raiders right edge was back at it. Jack Williams blasted through the defence and passed inside to Zeik Foster who sailed through for a try. Unfortunately for the Raiders Spaander obstructed the Titans defence and a no-try was ruled.
The misfortune proved costly for the Raiders, as the Titans marched up the field and got their first four-pointer when Phillip Sami pounced on a deflected grubber.
The Raiders hit straight back through a piece of individual brilliance from Nick Cotric. Taking the ball at his own 30m line, Cotric burst through the Titans line and weaved his way around the fullback to nab the lead back for the Raiders.
Two quick tries to the Titans came off the back off a wealth of possession and field position. Back to back penalties finally gave the Raiders field position and Woolford took advantage by firing off a pass to Daniel Dole who crashed over under the posts.
The score remained locked at 18-18 as the teams headed into the break after an exciting half of football.
A half-time pep talk by White saw the Raiders emerge the stronger of the two sides after the break. The Titans defence held strong as the Raiders peppered their defensive line, and a stray pass eventually let them off the hook.
A penalty soon after saw the Titans deep in Raiders territory. A smart set play saw Phillip Sami cross for his second of the day. Kelly’s conversion hit the post and bounced off, giving the Titans a four-point lead.
The Titans extended their lead again soon after with a scrappy chip and chase leaving the Raider defence scrambling. Titans winger David Pritchard was in the right place to pounce and score his first four-pointer of the day. Kelly missed his second conversion of the day to keep the Titans lead at 26-18.
The back and forth nature of the game continued as the teams traded tries to set up a thrilling finale.
Capping off his brilliant performance, Nick Cotric turned match-winner when he busted through the Titans defence and crossed for his second try. Zac Woolford nailed the difficult conversion to give the Raiders a two-point lead with minutes remaining.
The Raiders endured a nervous few minutes but they held on for the courageous 34-32 victoy.
Canberra Raiders 34 (Spaander, Cotric 2, Dole, Murchie, Williams. Woolford 5/6) defeated the Gold Coast Titans 32 (Sami 2, Kiel, Ralph, Pritchard, Mika. Kelly 4/6)