Canberra Raiders sink Gold Coast Titans in wet

But it will be a different ask up against the Melbourne Storm at Canberra Stadium on Friday, especially on a short turnaround.

“It’s tough to attack in those conditions, so we’ll certainly get tested next week against Melbourne,” Stuart said.

“Next week we’ll really see where our defence is. I’m sure the conditions won’t be anything like it was tonight, but we still had to make tackles.”

Wet conditions made holding on to the ball tough on the Gold Coast, with both sides repeatedly losing it in contact.

Both fullbacks struggled under the high ball, but the new Raiders No.1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad looked good when he found space to run and he positioned himself well in defence.


The Raiders also showed they’ve got points in them, even though the focus has been on defence.

Stuart praised the way his halves and hooker Josh Hodgson, as part of a new-look spine, controlled the game.

In his first game at five-eighth since 2014, Jack Wighton shone.

He ran the ball well and he showed he’s got a big left boot – the Raiders opening the scoring from a penalty earned off the back of a goal-line dropout one of his kicks created.

It was one of his runs that helped created their first try, in the dying seconds of the opening half.

Hodgson grubbered in behind for prop Sia Soliola to run on to to set up a 10-0 lead at the break.

England international John Bateman looked right at home in his NRL debut, running for 150m.Credit:AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Canberra halfback Aidan Sezer controlled the game well and a pinpoint, cross-field kick set up a try on debut for winger Bailey Simonsson.

Simonsson could’ve had two, but his centre Joey Leilua decided to barge through a host of Titans defenders to score instead.

Sezer also got in some field goal practice as the clock ran down.

Stuart had always been confident Wighton could make the switch to five-eighth.

“It was probably his maturity that he had to develop to play at six,” he said.

“When I first got to the club I did put him there, but as a young bloke he lacked the confidence in making the move.

“So I was happy to go with what he wanted and he developed into a top fullback. He would be one of the top four or five fullbacks I believe. But it’s best for the team [to play at five-eighth].”

The Raiders’ trimmed-down pack was outstanding, led by enforcer Josh Papalii (121 metres), who showed he’s not only a battering ram, but has silky skills as well.

He was backed up by fellow forwards Soliola (112m), Elliott Whitehead (109) and John Bateman (150) – who shone in his NRL debut.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart's changes off paid off in their season opener.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart’s changes off paid off in their season opener.Credit:AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Stuart said he was going to be an invaluable member of the squad.

“He’s a world-class back-rower … he brings a lot of experience – and big-game experience,” Stuart said.

“That’s what you get in those type of games, that experience really helps you.”

The Titans weren’t helped by the loss of halfback Ash Taylor (quadriceps) before the game and then five-eighth Tyrone Roberts (Achilles) early in the first half.

It meant Tyrone Peachey shifted to halfback in his Titans debut, with AJ Brimson at five-eighth.


CANBERRA RAIDERS 21 (Sia Soliola, Joey Leilua, Bailey Simonsson tries; Jarrod Croker 4 goals; Aidan Sezer drop goal) bt GOLD COAST TITANS 0  at Gold Coast. Referees: Dave Munro, Liam Kennedy. Crowd: 9843.

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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