Somehow, it's now Round 13 and today was only my third visit to Bruce Stadium. Canberra have only played a few games at home, and I have been away for a couple of them. A worrying statistic is that by Round 16, it will be just game 6 at home for the Green Machine.
Anyhow, I took a short walk through the forest, and I was at the game. I got there close to half time in the under 20s match, the Raiders had just taken the lead, then went in again soon after. Seemed like we were in for some entertainment. Half time changed things, Gold Coast went on a rampage. Defence was not the strongpoint, the young Raiders leaked numerous tries out of seemingly nothing. In the end, I think the final score was 54-26.
First grade started well, Josh Dugan scored a try in the first minute after Preston Campbell's kick off went out on the full. I thought it was a sign of things to come, I was hoping for a big Raiders victory, to add to the 136 points that the Titans conceded in the previous three games at Canberra Stadium.
Gold Coast were soon back on the board, but that was the end of their troubling of the scoreboard in the first half. 22-6, things were looking alright at halftime. The troubling thought was to look back at previous home form this year, and things were not looking so positive. They needed something immediate in the second half. Vidot over in the first minute, no worries, 50 points here we come. That's what I was thinking, then something went wrong.
This was before Dugan limped off the field, that really spelt trouble for the Raiders. Having a bench full of forwards was a real trouble here. The Raiders seem to show so regularly that they don't have the fitness expected of a senior NRL team.
Once Dugan was off, the structure was basically unknown. Joel Monaghan and Daniel Vidot seemed to share the fullback duties, Travis Waddell came on as a back up hooker, but original dummy half Glen Buttriss stayed on the field. It seemed as if the Raiders were missing a couple of players, as the Titans carved through some easy tries.
The Raiders got took a penalty goal, which should have used some time, put the Raiders on the front foot, but a mistake at the kick off meant a line drop out. The Raiders were looking more and more fatigued, hoping that the clock would run down, whilst the Titans ran faster and harder at the line. Monaghan took a catch in goal, suddenly he was looking keen. He ran out to the 20m line for the tap, but nobody else ran out with him. One at a time, a Raider move things a bit further forward.
Right towards the end, the Titans were powering for the line, but Mark Minichello went for the glory, when he had support next to him. He was tackled, last tackle changeover. Trevor Thurling took the final run. He was tackled, the siren went, the Raiders players fell down or lay on the grass. The Titans however, looked as if they could play another game. Unfortunately for them, that was their first loss in a row. For the Raiders, it was a much needed victory. Final score 28-24.
I'm not sure who was playing once Dugan hobbled from the field. This is the vague idea that I got of who was playing where
4. J. Thompson
16. T. Thompson
As NSW fans may remember, playing players out of position is not really a great idea. The fact that Glen Buttriss played 80 minutes seems to make the selection of Travis Waddell on the bench unnecessary. I think 18th man Adam Mogg may have been a better selection. With the fact that Joel Thompson is playing in the outside backs, there's already another forward ready.
Too late for that now, but there is likely to be a couple of changes made next week. If TLL and Shillington return to the Origin arena, there will be two places open, while Josh Dugan may not be back next week. Troy Thompson had another great game, he was probably the pick of the props.
Next week is the long trip to Townsville, hopefully the Green Machine can come away with two more points. The away form has been strangely good this year. So much so there was a sign at the game: THINK AWAY THOUGHTS RAIDERS