Titans go down swinging against Warriors
Saturday 24 August 2013 7:43 PM
A spirited second half comeback and a daring last-ditch effort by winger Kevin Gordon was not enough to stop the iSelect Gold Coast Titans from suffering a heartbreaking 24-22 loss the New Zealand Warriors at Skilled Park tonight.
Trailing 24-16 going into the final minutes of the match, the Titans fought back scoring through winger Anthony Don to reel the deficit back within two-points to ensure for a heart-stopping finish for the 15,786 strong crowd.
With the game hanging in the balance, Titans playmaker Aidan Sezer put in an attacking kick which was batted towards the dead-ball line, before freakish talent Gordon launched himself at the ball in an attempt to plant it down.
The video referee ruled 'no try' on the basis that Gordon had planted the ball down on the dead ball line despite copping a knock in the process from Warriors pivot Thomas Leuluai.
The decision forced the Titans to settle for the 24-22 loss and left them clinging to eighth position on the competition ladder pending other results over the weekend.
iSelect Titans coach John Cartwright praised his side’s courage in dealing with a mounting injury toll throughout the game but was left frustrated by the circumstances surrounding the 'no-try' to Gordon at the death.
While not disputing the 'no try' ruling, Cartwright was adamant the Titans should have been awarded a penalty for Leuluai striking out with his boot and coming into contact with Gordon's head.
He said the Titans were subsequently denied a chance to level the game with a penalty goal attempt and potentially send the game into golden point extra time.
“That’s there for everyone to see, the blatant sliding in with the legs while the guys going for a try, it’s a penalty, it’s not only a penalty but it goes on report,’’ said Cartwright.
“It’s hard to put into words what I’m feeling to be honest.”
However, Cartwright only had praise for his side's fightback with only one fit player on the interchange bench.
“It was very, very courageous, there was a total lack of troops at the end, we had guys who were out there who shouldn’t have been,” Cartwright said.
“We lost Minichiello (eye socket) for the game, Harrison (hand) definitely shouldn’t have been out there, Jamie Dowling (hip abductor) shouldn’t have been out there, it was just really, really courageous we got in all sorts of troubles with the injuries that we had.
“Just to get back within a chance of winning the game, it was very courageous.
“Like any game you make mistakes and we probably invited them, the try just before half-time was a crucial one.
“We were just chasing our tail the whole second-half with the amount of changes that we had to make.
It was an impressive start by the Titans with Gordon soaring high to collect a well-placed Albert Kelly kick before offloading to James to cross next to the posts giving Aidan Sezer an easy conversion to hand the side a 6-0 lead after three minutes of play.
In his milestone 150th appearance for the Titans, a heavy collision in a tackle forced Mark Minichiello from the field with an eye-socket and cheekbone injury.
The Titans woes worsened when a penalty piggy-backed the Warriors up-field and they took full advantage with centre Dane Nielsen forcing his way across the line, and with Shaun Johnson converting the game was tied up at 6-all after 12 minutes.
Some enterprising play by speedsters David Mead and Gordon put the Titans on the attack, and they capitalised when Mead fired a gridiron-like pass to a barging James who crushed through two defenders to score next to the posts and give the Titans a 12-6 lead with 20 minutes remaining in the half.
With momentum in their favour, the Titans continued to threaten the line and Kelly’s kicks were proving problematic with centre Brad Takairangi cleaning up the scraps after a Manu Vatuvei error to score in the corner to extend the Titans lead out to 16-6 with less than five minutes remaining in the half.
But the Warriors got one last play at the Titans line before the break, and some well-constructed play resulted in winger Jerome Ropati crossing in the corner to reduce the Titans half-time lead to 16-10.
The visitors started the second-half strongly, with rampaging centre Konrad Hurrell bulldozing through the Titans defensive line before putting his foot down to motor around Mead and score under the posts giving Johnson an easy conversion to tie the game up at 16-all after 45 minutes.
It took some enterprising play by the Warriors to break the deadlock in the 62nd minute with captain Simon Mannering offloading to Nathan Friend who got a pass to Johnson, who in one-motion caught and spun out of a tackle before getting the ball to Ropati, to cross for his second try to edge the visitors out to a 22-16 lead.
The Titans looked to have got the equaliser in the 68th minute when Kelly took a brilliant intercept pass off his own try-line before racing the length of the field to plant the ball down under the posts, but the play was called back with the referees ruling him to be offside.
From the resulting penalty in-front of the posts, Johnson converted to edge his side out beyond a converted try, giving the Warriors the 24-16 lead with just over ten minutes remaining.
After an exciting period of end-to-end play, the Titans ensured for a tight finish with Anthony Don finishing off a brilliant backline play to score out wide, and with Sezer nailing the conversion from the sideline the Titans trailed 24-22 with two minutes remaining.
With the game hanging in the balance, Aidan Sezer put in an attacking kick which was batted back by Vatuvei towards the dead-ball line, before Gordon launched himself at the ball planting the ball, but was ruled to have put the ball down on the dead-ball line.
The Titans will look to keep their finals hopes alive when they take on the Sydney Roosters at Allianz next week.
New Zealand Warriors 24 (J Ropati 2, D Nielsen, K Hurrell; S Johnson 3 conversions; S Johnson 1 penalty-goal) defeated Gold Coast Titans 22 (R James 2, B Takairangi, A Don; A Sezer 3 conversions)