Gold Coast have produced a stirring comeback in Garth Brennan’s NRL coaching debut, with Konrad Hurrell’s late try helping to pip Canberra 30-28 at home.
The club’s new million-dollar man Ashley Taylor was the architect, twice putting in kicks to set up tries in a club-record equalling 18-point comeback win.
It was shaping as an embarrassing opening night for the new-look Titans, who had leaked three soft tries after just 11 minutes.
Bullied through the middle of the park, the Titans completed at just 53 per cent and missed 20 tackles compared to Canberra’s nine in the first half.
The Raiders looked like running away with the contest before Taylor’s precise grubber found Kane Elgey in goal as the rain fell to give the Titans a sniff, down 24-12 at the break.
Phillip Sami and Dale Copley both crossed in the left corner to start to the second half, with a penalty kick soon after levelling proceedings at 24-all.
Raiders centre Joey Leilua put a halt to the comeback though, scooping up a battered down bomb for a 28-24 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
But Hurrell intercepted another Taylor grubber with 90 seconds to play, to delight the 10,238 in attendance.
“A little bit star struck and a little bit overawed… but I’ve said from the start that they’d never give up and they showed that,” Brennan said of his side’s slow start.
“I just wanted to see the effort in the boys and I didn’t see that in the first half and it really disappointed me.”
Earlier Siliva Havili darted from dummy half for the easiest of tries on debut for Canberra, before Jack Wighton and Elliott Whitehead exploited some nervous and disjointed Titans defence for tries of their own.
Kevin Proctor then put Gold Coast on the board when he finished off a polished set of six by barging over on the right edge.
The Raiders tweaked their line-up ahead of what was Ricky Stuart’s 100th game as coach, with Blake Austin recalled to start in the No.6 and Aidan Sezer used off the bench.
Stuart said it was his own side’s lack of ball, not composure, that cost them in the second half.
“If you don’t have the football its too hard,” he said.
“For us to get back into the lead it replicated what I know of the players, we’re a very tough, resilient bunch.
“It’s important how we handle that now emotionally to get back on the horse and go again.”