Gold Coast are heading to the NRLW finals after a professional 30-6 win against a lifeless Canberra at GIO Stadium.
The Raiders needed a 12-point win to steal their spot in the top four on Sunday but the Titans snuffed their chances with an early flurry before cruising to victory.
Gold Coast’s victory sets up next Sunday’s semi-finals, with Newcastle to host Brisbane while the Titans travel to the Sydney Roosters.
The Titans effectively put the race for the finals to bed in 11 minutes, landing a triple blow from which the Raiders were always unlikely to recover.
Prop Shannon Mato and fullback Evania Pelite each crossed easily before powerful centre Jaime Chapman broke the line and ran 40 metres to score, putting the Titans ahead 18-0 in the blink of an eye.
A slicing run from Gold Coast halfback Lauren Brown seemed to break the Canberra fight, before a barnstorming burst from second-rower Shaylee Bent made it 26-0 in the second half.
All-time leading NRLW try-scorer Madison Bartlett grabbed a consolation four-pointer for the Raiders on 66 minutes, before Sienna Lofipo closed the show for the Titans.
Gold Coast coach Karyn Murphy said it was her side’s best display of the season on the eve of finals.
“We set it up in the first half, we knew the Raiders would be really tough down here, they’ve been playing really well,” she said.
“We knew we had to come out fast and play our game and concentrate on that, which the girls have been doing all week.
“All we’ve done is focus on us, over the whole season, getting better week in and week out … last week was better again, but today I thought it was probably our most complete performance this year.”
Brown added a pair of assists to her try in a commanding display, with Pelite (162m, seven tackle busts) also in top form.
It was a sour ending to an otherwise impressive debut season for the Raiders, who finished 5-4 after turning in their worst performance of the year in their biggest game.
Earlier, Cronulla wrapped up their maiden campaign with the largest winning margin in NRLW history.
They smashed Parramatta 56-6 to break the 38-point mark set by the Sydney Roosters just last month.
Seven players crossed, with Ellie Johnston, Georgia Ravics and Annessa Biddle all nabbing doubles.
Biddle was unstoppable at times in a 273m, 15-tackle bust display, with hooker Quincy Dodd and Tayla Preston each putting on two try-assists.
Parramatta only had themselves to blame for the record defeat, turning in a shocking 54 per cent completion rate and missing 54 tackles.
The Sharks finish their NRLW campaign in sixth, while it wasn’t a season to remember for the Eels after last year’s grand final appearance, claiming the wooden spoon with just one win from nine outings.
© AAP 2023