After a resounding win against the Eels, and the media singing their praises, the Green Machine returned to the sacred ground of Bruce Stadium looking to match up against the rugby league version of the short bus - the Gold Coast Titans.

If I may speak frankly for a moment, I despise the Titans, and they are the only team I am prepared to punch down on regularly. For the same reason I dislike the Suns.

Once upon a time, in an NRL boardroom, the Titans were dreamed up to harness the "population" of the Gold Coast - nearly 500,000 souls at the time. It was thought they would be well-patronized, for some reason.

(Ignoring the fact that the Gold Coast already had a reputation for being the graveyard of professional sport, but, whatever.)

Anyway they were wrong. The Titans and Suns are their respective code's failure franchises. Buying big players, to ruin them, and never perform when needed most. The Gold Coast's body-count of players ruined is tremendous, and their legacy of failure on display for all to see.

The only reason either club still exists is because both codes are stuck in a deadlock trying to extract blood from a stone, convinced there's a gold mine of footy talent and supporters of the club just waiting to be unleashed.

You can keep wishing, hoping, and praying for as long as you like, I'll believe it when I see it.

Once again the gold and (sky) blue were winless coming to Canberra stadium. Coming off of a red-hot performance against the Eels, the expectation was that the Raiders would win, and win well.

So, naturally, they bottled it and had to rely on individual superstar performances to get them over the line. The Gold Coast scored more tries than Canberra, in a performance eerily similar to that of Cronulla in 2019 - if anyone who supported the Sharks read my column to be reminded of that.

After leading for the entire game, Canberra conceded two tries in 10 minutes to cough up a 10 point lead, and a clutch kick from Brain (not a typo, that's his name, I swear) Kelly sent us to golden point.

After AJ Brimson scooted forty meters down the field, it looked like Kieran Foran was going to chip the ball over the crossbar, and the $3.40 favourites were going to cause a boilover.

Instead, the debutant, Chevy Stewart (not Stuart, no relation) produced a clutch chargedown, which was then fortunately knocked on, and the Raiders had a million dollar minute.

Ethan Strange produced a miracle run out of nowhere to park Jamal Fogarty in front of the goals, and produced a 25-meter shank to clutch the win for the Green Machine, completing a great escape for the faithful.

So that's the good. Canberra gets two points.

But once again, the Raiders don't seem to understand how to play when they're heavily favoured. Gold Coast had no business being in that game to the extent that they did, and were it not for the (missing) boot of Kieran Foran, they'd be leaving Bruce Stadium with a win.

Des had clearly done his homework, slowing the game down to a crawl, and letting the Titans arrest Canberra's momentum early and often. Good ball would often be met with a wrestle, followed by a glacially slow play the ball. The Gold Coast turned away plenty of Canberra attacking sets, that should've won them the game handily.

It would be the Titans who poked holes in Canberra's defence, taking advantage of the Raiders' unwillingness to wrestle and slow, and were able to exploit young Chevy Stewart's inexperience to sneak a pair of tries behind the defensive line.

Sticky in the press conference afterward said he was proud of the professionalism his side showed. I'm not sure I agreed with that assessment, considering they were a straight kick away from losing. But he did say something else, too.

Baited by a journalist, Ricky was informed that Des, in passing, was not happy with the lopsided counts for penalties and set restarts. And... I agree with Ricky.

The Titans were all over the ruck like a rash. They wrestled, they pretended to strip the ball, they held on too long - and they conceded set restarts and penalties. Sticky is correct, there could've been a lot more, and it made the game incredibly frustrating to watch - like all the games have been at Bruce Stadium this year.

There are some clueless pundits on noted site breddit dot com who were convinced the Titans were hard done by. And allow me to address those people, on the off chance they find this column:

Fuck right off. Next time try watching the game.

As for the Raiders, well, they make the pilgrimage to Brisbane to do battle with the Broncos. They broke the drought last year, but having to play an extra ten minutes of football will be rough.

Either way, I will be watching.

Catch you next time,

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