At last, something resembling a contest!
It was billed as the match of the round, not that there was much to measure against given what preceded it. The average winning score in the previous round-four games was 37.5 points. Again, another favourite prevailed when Canberra won their fifth consecutive clash against the Gold Coast.
However, it was closer than the final 20-4 scoreline suggested. The Titans remained in the battle for almost the entirety despite losing halfback Jamal Fogarty (quad) and winger Anthony Don (hip flexor) to injury along the way. A late try to Ryan Sutton blew out the scoreboard.
This was a “home″ game for the Titans, but they had precious little support. About half of the 5119 in attendance left Kogarah after the massacre that was the Sharks-Cowboys mismatch. They missed a match of far superior quality.
There is a concerning gulf between the strongest and weakest teams in the NRL. The Gold Coast, based on what we have witnessed so far, belong to a grouping somewhere between them. They are a club on the rise and the Green Machine showed how far they have yet to go.
Canberra’s first try was an absolute cracker. It began with a short ball from George Williams to Elliott Whitehead and finished with a Jarrod Croker inside ball to Jordan Rapana. The last bit was as close a re-enactment of Benji Marshall’s flick pass to Pat Richards as there has been since 2005.
The Titans responded with a pearler of their own, the diminutive Corey Thompson finishing off a slick movement. Alas, it was the only time they troubled the scoreboard.
The Titans should have led at the break. On two occasions, Don set himself for the tryline at unbackable odds. Twice he was denied. Jack Wighton stopped him the first time, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad the second. Both were desperate defensive plays of the highest order against a noted finisher. This would have pleased Ricky Stuart as much as anything either of his stars produced with the Steeden.