Injury-hit Titans’ finals hopes dealt a big blow

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NRL: Titans centre Nathan Davis appears to have broken his ankle in a horror moment after he got his leg trapped in a tackle against the Raiders.

Paul Vaughan scores a try for the Raiders. Picture: Adam Head

THE Titans’ injury woes have hit crisis point with centre Nathan Davis facing a season-ending setback as Canberra delivered a hammer blow to Gold Coast’s finals hopes.

In a crucial battle at Cbus Super Stadium, the Raiders surged back into the top eight — and rocked the Titans’ playoff ambitions in the process — with a rousing 30-22 road triumph.

Four wins in five starts gave the 10th-placed Titans a finals feel and victory would have seen them officially leapfrog ninth-placed Canberra into the top eight.

But the red-hot Raiders handed the Titans a stinging finals reality check with a five-tries-to-four disposal compounded by Davis’ shocking ankle injury

NRL: Greg Bird has been sin binned in the Titans’ clash against the Raiders, for slapping Canberra big man Shannon Boyd.

The 20-year-old lasted just 23 minutes before being stretchered off after his leg was sickeningly crushed attempting to make a tackle.

He was taken to hospital with a suspected dislocated and fractured ankle, swelling a Titans casualty ward that already contains Will Zillman, Konrad Hurrell, David Mead and John Olive.

It was that sort of day for the Titans, who competed hard but rarely looked likely against a huge Raiders side that had too much muscle and offensive punch.

Inspired by BJ Leilua and former Titan Aidan Sezer, the Raiders led 18-10 at halftime before a Brenko Lee double after the break broke the Titans’ spirit.

NSW Origin lock Greg Bird typified the disappointment, the firebrand sin-binned 15 minutes from time for repeated ill-discipline as frustrations spilt over.

NRL: Nene MacDonald has taken a fantastic grab over Jordan Rapana to score Gold Coast’s first try of the day.

The Titans now face a daunting road trip to face the Warriors as coach Neil Henry rued Davis’ collapse and an injury saga that threatens their playoffs push.

“Nathan will be out for a while, it looks like a dislocated ankle,” Henry said.

“We had to put our back-rowers out there (into the centre). We are a bit skinny out wide without David Mead, John Olive and Konrad Hurrell.

“We were quite small out there. In the end it was the Land of the Giants against us.”

Underlining the struggle, Eddy Pettybourne (head knock) failed to finish and key prop Ryan James left the field briefly in the second half for a concussion test.

NRL: Brenko Lee has taken an outstanding intercept to score a 90 metre try after Josh Hodgson was knocked out by a brutal head clash.

Within two minutes of James’ departure came the game-changing moment. With the Titans trailing 24-10 and set to score, Zeb Taia’s pass was freakishly intercepted by Lee, who raced 80 metres for a 30-10 lead. Game over.

“That was a turning point,” Henry lamented.

“It could have gone anywhere but it sits up for Lee and he goes 80 metres to score.”

The Titans have played with great resolve this season and most weeks their performances have exceeded the sum of their unheralded parts.

But if Henry’s troops want to be a finals force, they can’t afford to concede the soft tries that allowed the Green Machine to hit top gear.

“We need to be better in defence,” Titans fullback Josh Hoffman said.

“Defence is crucial if you want to be in the top eight or the top four and we need to work on that area.”

CANBERRA 30 (J Croker 2 B Lee 2 P Vaughan tries J Croker 5 goals) bt GOLD COAST 22 (N MacDonald 2 R James C McQueen tries T Roberts 3 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton, Chris James. Crowd: 12,645.

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