Halfback Aidan Sezer also impressed, kicking well – including a pinpoint one across field for Bailey Simonsson’s try on debut – and he showed some good game management when he took a drop goal with six minutes remaining to make it 19-0 and ensure the two points were safe.
It was the Titans whose halves struggled, not surprisingly given they lost Ash Taylor before the game and Tyrone Roberts early, leaving Tyrone Peachey and AJ Brimson to fill the void.
It doesn’t matter where Josh Papalii plays, he just gets the job done.
He was brilliant in his shift to the middle, leading the way as the Green Machine’s new enforcer.
Papalii ran for big metres (121), put in some big hits, all the while showing he also has the hands of an angel.
The Queensland star’s pick-up in the teaming rain belied the conditions as he deftly found Sezer to set up Simonsson’s try.
The new trimmed-down version of the Raiders’ pack looked the goods with Sia Soliola, John Bateman and Elliott Whitehead all starring.
Simonsson scores on debut
His father Paul scored four tries on debut for the All Blacks and Bailey Simonsson has also scored on debut for the Raiders – with his dad watching on from the stands.
Simonsson became the first Raider to bag a four pointer in his first game for the club since Drury Low crossed twice in 2010.
Low scored a double playing on the wing against the New Zealand Warriors in round eight nine years ago.
Simonsson could’ve had a double himself when he found himself wide open and Joey Leilua charging at the line.
But Leilua opted to hold on to the ball instead of passing to his young winger – luckily managing to get the ball down himself.
Taking the Bate
The Raiders fans got to see everything England international John Bateman offers.
Versatility, hard running, skill, solid defence and not to mention his cheeky, competitive side.
Having started at lock, he switched to the second row late in the game when Simonsson came off with cramp.
He ran for 150m and he made 36 tackles.
But the highlight was almost when he took exception to some work from the Titans defenders in the ruck, faking to throw the ball at their head before chuckling at them for flinching.
Debutantes give glimpse
It wasn’t just Simonsson and Bateman who looked at home in their first game in lime green.
Prop Corey Horsburgh also provided impact when he came off the bench.
While he made a few errors, the wet conditions had internationals and Origin stars making exactly the same mistakes.
But he kept lining up and showed he’s got a rock-hard shoulder in the defensive line, putting on a couple of big shots.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad also showed he’s a handful when he’s got room to run and positioned himself well to provide defensive cover.
Plus, after a shaky start, he started to look more comfortable under the high ball as the game went on.
David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.