Paasi inspires Titans win over Raiders
The Titans earned their first win of the Downer NRL Auckland Nines weekend with a powerful 26-15 victory over Canberra, sparked by powerhouse prop Agnatius Paasi.
Despite kicking out on the full to start the game the Raiders opened the scoring when big prop Paul Vaughan pushed over from dummy half through rookie playmaker Ash Taylor. The Raiders' next kick-off didn't go the 10 and this time they paid the penalty as Paasi crashed over in the bonus zone shortly after.
The Titans showed them how a short drop-kick should work when they regathered their kick-off and almost made it count only for Greg Leleisiuao to be held up over the line. The Gold Coast were next to score anyway though, as Greg Bird barged over out wide to make it 9-4 at half-time.
Sisa Waqa kept things interesting, strolling through two defenders to get Canberra within a point early in the second half. But Tyrone Roberts continued his fine tournament with a wonderful solo try which he converted himself for a 15-8 lead. A deft Ash Taylor grubber for Shane Wright extended the Titans' advantage shortly after.
In a scarcely believable passage of play, man-mountain Agnatius Paasi leapt high to regather the drop-kick restart and bounded towards Canberra's sticks and though he was caught just short, popped a beautiful offload for Nathan Davis to score.
Lachie Croker dragged one back when he chased down a kick to score in the bonus zone but it couldn't avert the 26-15 loss.
Titans forward Paasi talked NRL.com through his athletic take from the kick-off which resulted in a Nathan Davis try late in the first half.
"I told them to put it high off the kick-off and give it a crack, in the end I got the ball and was able to set up a try," Paasi said.
"Nathan was there on my shoulder the whole time so I thought I would pass to him. At first I thought I could go all the way but I got stopped!"
Raiders forward Vaughan said the heavy loss to the Titans came after his side made a number of schoolboy mistakes at Eden Park.
"It was a little bit frustrating, we made a couple of rookie errors by not having someone close by for the kick-offs, as well as a couple of dropped balls," he told NRL.com.
"I think we are in a situation where we need to win by a couple of tries now tomorrow, but we have got lots of energy and have some good young kids out there."
Gold Coast Titans 26 (Paasi, Bird, Roberts, Wright, Davis tries) def Canberra Raiders 15 (Vaughan, Waqa, L Croker tries)