Raiders hold off fast-finishing Titans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Raiders hold off fast-finishing Titans

By Sharon Mathieson 05/07/2009 07:16:57 PM Comments (0)

Canberra forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs could have destroyed his State of Origin career before it even begins.

The Raiders enforcer was instrumental in leading his team to an action-packed 34-28 victory over the Gold Coast in their NRL showdown in Canberra on Sunday.

At the same time he seemed certain to have done enough to convince NSW Origin selectors to include him as a debutant when they announce the Blues team on Monday night.

But just as they would have been pencilling him in, Learoyd-Lahrs put himself in jeopardy when he was placed on report in the 53rd minute for a high elbow on Titans second-rower Anthony Laffranchi.

"He made contact with the Gold Coast player I believe around the head area," referee Chris James reported to partner Gavin Badger, who put the forward on report.

Learoyd-Lahrs now has a nervous wait until Monday afternoon to learn if he faces a suspension.

And the result from the NRL match review committee could impact on the NSW selectors' decision on their forwards for Origin III.

For what it's worth, Learoyd-Lahrs' coach David Furner believes his second-rower will be cleared.

"I didn't think it was warranted," Furner said when asked about Learoyd-Lahrs being placed on report.

"I don't think there will be anything in it."

Furner, a veteran of eight Origins for NSW, is confident Learoyd-Lahrs is worthy of playing for the Blues.

"He's been playing some very good minutes ... he's been on the selectors' minds," he said.

"I think today was fairly strong. His ability to play front row and second row is pretty good."

Furner's own concern is how he will field a team in next week's clash with Newcastle if Queensland and NSW selectors rob him of his best players.

The Raiders coach believes skipper Alan Tongue (NSW), centre Joel Monaghan (NSW) and prop David Shillington (Qld) are all worthy of Origin selection.

Asked about Shillington's potential call-up to the Queensland side to replace the injured Petero Civoniceva, Furner replied: "They've won the series so it's probably the right time to do so. He's big, he suits that style of play."

Raiders five-eighth Terry Campese is also hopeful of a recall into the Blues squad.

"I can't lie, I'd love to be there but it's up to the selectors now," Campese said.

All five players stepped up today as they held off an impressive late surge from the Gold Coast, who came within one converted try of sending the match to golden point extra time in the final minutes.

"We had all the momentum and we thought we might have struck a draw out," Titans coach John Cartwright said.

"It's a tough road trip down here. We're well down on troops and a few of the guys were pretty crook too."

Incumbent Blues centre Monaghan impressed early when he intercepted the ball which led to Raiders winger Phil Graham opening the scoring in the sixth minute.

Midway through the first half Canberra lost winger Justin Carney after he broke both the tibia and fibula in his leg in a compound fracture.

Despite the loss of Carney, forward Josh Miller scored the first of two tries soon after and Learoyd-Lahrs' 40th minute effort gave the Raiders a 28-6 halftime lead.

In a thrill-a-minute second half, the Gold Coast fought back with two tries to winger David Mead (51st and 56th minutes), winger Chris Walker (73rd) and five-eighth Preston Campbell in the 75th minute.

Sunday's win moves the Raiders into 10th position on the NRL ladder and into contention of finishing the season in the top eight.

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