Weird and wonderful in Titans triumph
Titans half Kane Elgey has showed he can handle the responsibility of guiding the fortunes of an NRL team, steering his side to a 28-12 win over the Raiders at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday.
A late inclusion in the team after missing the previous week with a hip injury, Elgey laid on the opening try of both halves for Kalifa Fafai Loa, scored one himself, provided a nice tip-on for Nene Macdonald's 70th-minute try and kicked four goals that may save his team from the ignominy of a second wooden spoon.
Such was his influence on the result Fox Sports commentator and Dragons great Mark Gasnier said that he genuinely believes Elgey "is definitely a player you could build a team around".
Three players were placed on report, seven tries were scored, 27 errors were made, Faifai Loa came to the game on a skateboard, Nate Myles refused to be substituted and at the end of it all two competition points were awarded.
Even Matt White almost scored a try.
The Raiders were cruelled time and again by a Sam Williams kicking game that was as ineffective as it was at times mystifying and the only thing that seemed to make sense was that Elgey well and truly belongs in the NRL.
Playing in obvious discomfort, the 21-year-old kept his team largely on the straight and narrow, even assuming the goal-kicking duties and coming up with a second-half 40/20 that was cruelled by a stone-cold drop by Luke Douglas a few tackles later.
When the full-time siren finally sounded Agnatius Paasi raised his arms in triumph as his teammates slumped to the ground around him, perhaps equally stunned and exhausted but what had transpired over 80 minutes.
The scoreboard may have seemed a stock-standard 14-12 at the main break but there was enough weird and a little sprinkling of wonderful rugby league to fill an entire series of Ripley's Believe it or Not.
Starting with Dave Taylor being named at five-eighth for the Titans, Greg Bird suffered the earliest injury possible in a game of rugby league when he tore his quadricep while taking the kick-off, the injury forcing him from the field in the fourth minute where he punched a door in frustration on his way to the dressing room.
Despite Neil Henry's playmaking stocks taking a further hit he did have Elgey back in the fold and after an earlier failed attempt went back to the left edge with his left boot, kicking over the head of Raiders winger Sisa Waqa for Faifai Loa to race through and score in the corner after six minutes.
Despite being bereft of playmaking options, the Titans executed a nice ruck play that allowed Beau Falloon to bring Paasi under who burst into the backfield before finding Elgey in support, who twisted and juggled before finding his composure in time to score adjacent to the posts, Daniel Mortimer hooking the attempt from close range for an 8-0 lead.
With the Titans enjoying 60 per cent of early possession they passed the first examination of their defence when the Raiders had two sets on their try-line before Josh Papalii spilt a pass a metre out from the line.
However, an error from Myles coming out of his own end and a subsequent penalty under the posts invited the Raiders to have another crack and a yawning chasm left by Paasi and Elgey allowed Williams to stroll through untouched.
Struggling to build any kind of momentum, the Raiders proved to be their own worst enemy, first Edrick Lee making an error from a scrum win 10 metres out and then Jack Wighton spilling a Mortimer grubber on the line that invited the Titans to mount further attack, their reward a try to Ryan James who powered through a Jarrad Kennedy tackle to twist his way over the line for a 14-6 lead through 27 minutes.
And then things got really weird.
A bizarre three-minute period of play that began with a Elgey trip on Joey Leilua for which he was placed on report, included a James Roberts run from his in-goal and a wild pass to Josh Hoffman barely in the field of play, Kennedy and Paul Vaughan being held up over the line and a no try ruling on Kurt Baptiste left two referees and 8,762 fans scratching their heads as to what exactly had just happened.
Mortimer was eventually deemed to have knocked on in trying to regather possession of the Austin grubber kick and the Raiders finally found pay-dirt for their endeavours when Jarrod Croker sliced through a gap only slightly smaller than the one Williams strolled through earlier to reduce the margin to just two points.
And as the minutes counted down to the end of the first half, James was placed on report for an ugly late hit on Williams after a kick that was charged down by Taylor, the 'Coal Train' clipping James on his way through to the extent that his teammate headed to the sheds early for a concussion test.
Gold Coast Titans 28 (Kalifa Faifai Loa 2, Kane Elgey, Ryan James, Nene Macdonald tries; Kane Elgey 4 goals) def. Canberra Raiders 12 (Sam Williams, Jarrod Croker tries; Croker 2 goals). Crowd: 8,762. Half-time: Titans 14-12. On report: Kane Elgey (Titans), Ryan James (Titans), Joseph Leilua (Raiders). Holden Cup: Titans 40-12.