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Titans' Bundjalung pair nearly steal the game from Raiders

Andrew Mathieson -

Alofiana Khan-Pereira’s proficient right step around tight corners and Brian Kelly’s timely right boot all but pulled off a Gold Coast upset over Canberra until Jamal Fogarty sent his former club back to reality.

The Bundjalung Titan backs were able to combine twice up the left side inside the final four and a half minutes to pull back the deficit from 20-10 down to tie the scores up after the siren blared to force the match into golden point on Sunday evening.

But the Mununjali star halfback eventually secured a 21-20 victory, Fogarty kicking the extra point nine minutes later to spoil the Titans' comeback at Canberra Stadium.

Early on proved to be the sort of clash where it took a whole 19 minutes for either side to break the shackles until the hosts converted its dominant territory into points after the Raiders were held up over the line previously on three occasions.

But the defensive malaise for most of the contest turned around at the back end of game following three tries in 11 minutes after both had combined to cross four times in the opening 68 minutes.

Kelly’s bouncing kick between Canberra’s uncompromising defensive line found winger Khan-Pereira up the left side speeding past his turning opposite number to catch the grubber bounce and joyously leaping over for the first of his two tries.

With Nucoorilma man Jayden Campbell off the ground, Kelly stepped in what was his first time kicking at goal among his 152nd NRL game after playing the first 47 appearances of his career at Manly.

Kelly missed the Gold Coast conversion to trail by six points in the dying minutes, but came within a metre from reaching over the line moments later.

The ensuing play-the-ball had two long left passes find Khan-Pereria to plant the ball in the left corner with his feet and legs dangling in the air in touch while contorting his upper body the other way to stay in the field of play.

Kelly’s more difficult second shot at redemption from the sideline sailed from left to right effortlessly over the crossbar for a 20-all score at the end of 80 minutes.

Gold Coast flailed the first two field goal attempts horribly in the first four minutes of extra-time to hand over possession.

Canberra tapped the ball and, on the first tackle, five-eighth Ethan Strange got around a flat defence to get Fogarty into position for a field goal 18 metres out right in front.

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