The Raiders equalled the greatest comeback in the club's 40-year history to stun the Titans 24-22 at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.
Canberra trailed 22-0 five minutes before halftime but piled on five unanswered tries to snatch a remarkable win, with five-eighth Jack Wighton leading the way.
It was a complete turnaround from the first half when the Titans were in total control but a try on the stroke of halftime to centre Semi Valemei gave Canberra fans some hope.
Wighton and hooker Tom Starling sparked the comeback, while Valemei and fellow centre Matt Timoko had strong second half performances in both attack and defence.
Missile Valemei lines up Brimson
It has been a disjointed start to the season for the Raiders with halfback Jamal Fogarty and hooker Josh Hodgson suffering long term injuries and a COVID outbreak side-lining several other players.
Among them was rookie halfback Brad Schneider, who converted Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad's 76th minute try to seal the win.
The victory equalled the biggest comeback in Canberra's history when they trailed Wests Tigers 22-0 in 2015 and snatched a 30-22 win.
Match: Raiders v Titans
Round 3 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
- The Titans scored four tries in 22 minutes to storm to a 22-0 lead, with winger Phillip Sami crossing in the 13th minute.
- Centre Brian Kelly scored next in the 23rd minute after grubbering behind his opposite Semi Valemei and backing up second-rower Beau Fermor, who won the race for the ball and tapped it on to Kelly.
Cheeky Kelly extends the lead
- Halfback Toby Sexton then put Fermor over for a try of his own in the 30th minute as the visitors continued to dominate the match.
- When captain Tino Fa'asuamaleaui crashed over from close range in the 35th minute it seemed to be a case of how much the Titans would win by.
- A Semi Valemei try with just seconds remaining before halftime gave the Raiders a glimmer of hope after Elliott Whitehead and Tom Starling played hot potato with the ball before Jordan Rapana threw a long pass to the centre.
Valemei gets one back for the Raiders
- It was a different Raiders side that returned after the interval and the first signs of what lay ahead came when Jack Wighton kicked from long range into the Gold Coast in-goal and chased with Tom Starling to force a goal line drop out.
- Centre Matt Timoko scored a 45th minute try during the repeat set after pouncing on a Wighton grubber near the opposition line.
- Timoko then got his second try five minutes later after a Starling burst into the clear from dummy half and offloaded to Rapana, who put Timoko over.
Timoko goes bang bang
- Seb Kris put the Raiders within sight of an unlikely win when intercepted a Toby Sexton pass and then scored three tackles later after a cut-out pass from rookie halfback Brad Schneider.
- The Raiders took the lead for the first time in the 76th minute after fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad won the race for a Wighton grubber into the Titans' in-goal and Schneider converted.
Klokstad completes comeback
Play of the game
A long range kick and chase by Jack Wighton early in the second half sparked the greatest comeback in Canberra's history after he and Tom Starling tackled Jayden Campbell in-goal to force a repeat set. Centre Matt Timoko then pounced on a Wighton grubber to score the first of four unanswered Canberra tries.
The turning point
What they said
“They showed a lot of resilience and determination because there are a lot of football teams who wouldn’t have come out and been able to do that. Stability is a big thing and I have been saying it for the last three months when so many people want to criticise Jack [Wighton] and bag the hell out of him. He had five fullbacks last year, he had a number of combinations at halfback and hooker. I don’t care if you are Johnathan Thurston or Andrew Johns, you can’t play to your capability": Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.
“It’s really disappointing. We knew that we were going to be in for a real tough game here and I thought we weathered the storm in the first half and put on some good tries ourselves. We leaked that one right on halftime which at the end of the game comes back and hurts you. In the second half we just weren’t willing to do what we did in the first half. We started to panic and look for some short cuts and came unstuck in the end. We have got to hold on and win those games when we are in control. We are not the side who can put 80 good minutes together yet.": Titans coach Justin Holbrook.
Gold Coast Titans
The Raiders travel to Mudgee on Saturday in search of their third win of the season against Manly, while the Titans will have the chance to bounce back from their heart-breaking loss when they host Wests Tigers on Thursday night.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart will have captain Jarrod Croker available for selection after he helped the club's NSW Cup team to a 47-24 defeat of Wests Magpies in his return from a knee injury on Saturday.
Winger Corey Thompson is due to return for his first match of the season for the Gold Coast after suffering a hand injury.