Canberra coach Ricky Stuart says he will excuse Sunday’s error-riddled 28-12 NRL loss on the Gold Coast because the Raiders had their season “stolen” from them.
Canberra were cruelly knocked out of finals contention in last week’s controversial 26-24 loss to Manly – and it showed on Sunday.
In a scrappy dead rubber, a flat Raiders never found their feet as a Kane Elgey-inspired Gold Coast recovered from Greg Bird’s freak kick-off injury to move off the bottom of the NRL ladder.
The Titans were down to 16 men for 80 minutes after Bird tore his quad kicking off to start the game in what looms as his last sighting for the year.
However, Stuart could not blame his side for the poor effort as he broke his silence on last week’s loss sealed by off-side Manly fullback Brett Stewart’s match-winning try.
“We had our season stolen from us last week,” said Stuart.
“A lot of months of work went into that loss last week and when you see your season go it makes it hard.
“If I ever excuse a loss, I will excuse that one today – but that’s it.”
Stuart insisted his Raiders were made of sterner stuff despite their display in a game that would have made the purists wince.
“There is a lot of resilience there but they were knocked around last week,” he said.
“I can promise you this group has got a strong culture for the club.
“But it’s human nature. It has been a hard week to get up.”
Halfback Elgey was a shining light for the Gold Coast who did their best to avoid their second wooden spoon in five seasons with a rare win.
Their second victory in nine games moved them to third last and two points clear of Wests Tigers – who were thrashed 40-18 by Cronulla – and Newcastle, who play in Melbourne on Monday night.
Back from a hip complaint, Elgey scored one try, set up another three and took over goal kicking duties to amass a 12-point personal haul in front of just 8,762 fans.
“He has a bright future. He’s a competitor,” Henry said of Elgey, who will keep Gold Coast-bound halves Ash Taylor and Tyrone Roberts honest next year.
In keeping with the bizarre game, forward Dave Taylor was originally named as Titans five-eighth with Aidan Sezer (shoulder) out for the season.
But Dan Mortimer slotted into the halves after a reshuffle caused by Bird’s injury.
Elgey (tripping, 29th minute) and forward Ryan James (dangerous tackle, 52nd) were placed on report.
Canberra centre Joey Leilua may be in big trouble for a 29th minute shoulder charge.