Injuries hit hard as Titans fall to Knights
Sunday 28 April 2013 3:45 PM
An injury-ravaged iSelect Gold Coast Titans side has put in a courageous effort despite going down 30-6 to the Newcastle Knights at Skilled Park today.
The Titans were forced to play the final 70 minutes of the match with just one fit interchange player, after losing 80 minute forward Ashley Harrison (suspected syndesmosis ankle and knee), crafty hooker Matt Srama (fractured hand) and utility-centre Luke O’Dwyer (broken jaw) inside the opening 15 minutes.
In a physical encounter, the Titans remained competitive for 55 minutes, but the loss of three key players and having just one-fit interchange option proved too much as the Knights posted three tries in the final 22 minutes to register a 30-6 win.
In front of a crowd of 14,201, Titans utility-hooker Beau Falloon put in an inspiring performance playing 70 minutes, making 43 tackles, eight runs and a try-assist, despite having appendicitis two-weeks ago.
iSelect Titans coach John Cartwright said the loss of the key trio compounded with some cheap errors proved costly for his side.
“On a day like that, to lose three players in the first 20 minutes it’s not ideal,” Cartwright said.
“But at 12-6 with 25 minutes to go, I thought there was a big shift in momentum there. I thought that we did get back to our starting halves and that
made us a little bit more stable.
“But from that point we just came up with some errors. Some bad kicks and some errors, and it was a shame the scoreboard got out to that, because the score wasn’t a reflection of that game.
“I thought at 12-6 - with everything that went against us - I really thought it was going to be a tight game. The momentum shifted and just from that moment we lost our way a little bit.
“We sort of spoke at half-time that we nearly had to play the perfect half of football with only one front-rower on the bench, we couldn’t give them any cheap ball or any cheap possession, but unfortunately that’s what we did.”
iSelect Titans co-captain Greg Bird said it was a gruelling match but was pleased with his side’s ability to continue to compete for the full 80 minutes under the tough circumstances.
“Ten minutes in, I looked up and we were three players down. It all happened so quick and no one, I guess out on the field really knew what had happened because we weren’t making any subs after that,” Bird said.
“A few players got moved around, I guess that's what happens when you lose any one player but with three I guess we made quite a few shufflings.
“We went back to our most original structure as we could at half-time, but just ran out of gas at the end.
“It was tough, but the boys muscled it out all the way to the end. I guess the first half, the temperature, playing in the sun really made it tough as well.
“We did muscle it out, it wasn’t really until the last ten minutes that it was obvious the Knights were going to win.
“We kept trying and fighting, it’s a cliché but it’s credit to the boys in the middle that had to endure a fair amount of minutes.”
After losing high-flying winger Keving Gordon before the match, it was a horrendous start for the Titans, losing Harrison (ankle and knee), Srama (hand) and O’Dwyer (broken jaw) inside the opening 15 minutes.
Despite the injuries, it was the Titans who produced the first try-scoring opportunity in the 16th minute when winger Steve Michaels crossed out wide, but he was ruled to have gone into touch by the video-referee.
Going into the final minutes of the half, it was the Titans who looked to be mounting pressure but when Dane Gagai intercepted a David Taylor pass, it sparked an 80 metre effort resulting in Timana Tahu crossing in the corner to give the Knights a 6-0 half-time lead.
The Titans woes worsened in the opening minutes of the second-half, when a Jarrod Mullen bomb bounced up for Robbie Rochow who threw a suspect pass to David Fa’alogo who scored under the posts to extend the visitors lead out to 12-0.
With ball in hand, the Titans looked dangerous and the man causing the most trouble for the Knights defensive line was Falloon who produced a lovely offload to William Zillman who found a flying Albert Kelly to score untouched under the posts and reel the deficit back to 12-6 with 30 minutes remaining.
From a Mullen kick, the Knights forced a repeat set and took full advantage of their possession when a Darius Boyd cut-out pass found winger James McManus out-wide to give his side an 18-6 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
The tiresome Titans defence continued to compete, but despite their gutsy efforts were unable to contain McManus who barged his way over the line for his second try to take the Knights lead out to 24-6.
With Knights captain Kurt Gidley on-song with his conversions, the Knights opted to take the extra-two from a penalty directly in front to extend their lead out to 26-6 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Mullen’s left-boot continued to trouble the Titans back three, and in the 76th minute he put a pin-point bomb for flying winger Akuila Uate to clean up the scraps and score in the corner to give the Knights the 30-6 win.
The Titans will look to hit-back next week when they take on the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.
Newcastle Knights 30 (J McManus 2, T Tahu, D Fa’alogo, A Uate; K Gidley 5 conversions) defeated Gold Coast Titans 6 (A Kelly; A Sezer 1 conversion)