Titans grind out win over Storm
Monday 24 June 2013 9:00 PM
The iSelect Gold Coast Titans have produced a gutsy performance to score an 18-12 victory over the Melbourne Storm at Skilled Park tonight.
Despite both sides missing key-players to origin duties, it was a tightly contested first 40 minutes with team’s trading converted tries to take a 6-all scoreline into the half-time break.
With momentum swinging in the Titans’ favour early in the second-half, the home-side edged out to a 14-6 lead before conceding a Storm try in the 63rd minute to ensure for a nail-biting finish for the 13,044 strong crowd.
With the game hanging in the balance, the Titans produced some heavy defence to force a hand-over deep inside the Storm’s defensive line, and were rewarded when Luke O’Dwyer, playing in his first game back since breaking his jaw in round 7, scored to give the Titans the 18-12 win over the reigning premiers.
Now past the half-way point of the competition, tonight marks the Titans eighth win of the season to stay firmly in-touch with the top-four, and put the side in a good position for the remainder of the competition.
iSelect Titans coach John Cartwright said despite some early errors, he was happy with his side’s capability to grind out the win against the calibre of the Storm squad.
“We probably just turned over a little bit too much ball in the first half, a couple of last play options, we ran out a couple of times and put the ball dead as well in try scoring opportunities,” Cartwright said.
“But I sort of thought it would be pretty tough, I knew they’d come here and work really hard on spoiling and trying to grind a win out.
“That was the pleasing thing, we weathered that and we found a way to score points and enough points to win.
“That (the defence) was very pleasing, just right up to the death, the last set of six they had with the ball probably typified the effort that was in the defence all night.
“We kept coming from inside to stop the kick and ended up diving on the loose ball or making the sixth tackle right on their try-line, I think that typified how we defended all night.
“With an ounce of luck we probably score four or five more tries. They scrambled really hard and spoiled really well and a just a couple of ball went down and a couple went dead
“You worry when that’s happening, it looks like you should be a lot more in front than you are, and they don’t need a lot of opportunities to score points.
“I knew it was going to be a very, very tough, grinding affair.”
Earlier on, the Titans looked to have opened the scoring in the 15th minute when an Aidan Sezer grubber ricocheted off the upright for halves’ partner Albert Kelly, who had two acrobatic attempts to get the ball down only to be denied by the video-referee.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring when a crafty flick pass by Will Chamber put his winger Sisa Waqa in space down the line, before getting a pass back to Ben Hampton to score on debut and give the Storm a 6-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The Titans hit-back minutes later, after winger Kevin Gordon scooped up the scraps of a Kelly bomb to score out wide and with Sezer nailing his 26th straight conversion, the game was tied up at 6-all with just under 15 minutes remaining in the half.
The remainder of the half turned into a tight contest, but the Titans managed to force a goalline drop-out giving them one last crack at the Storm defence before the half-time siren, but a Sezer grubber beat Gordon to the dead-ball line leaving the game tied up at 6-all going into the break.
Missing their ‘big three’ the Storm were dealt another blow, losing playmaker Gareth Widdop with a dislocated hip in the 51st minute.
The Titans received a a penalty in-front of the posts in the 52nd minute, and Sezer calmly plotted the conversion to break the half-time deadlock and edge his side out to a slim 8-6 lead.
A penalty piggy-backed the Titans down-field and they took full advantage when Jamal Idris darted off down the blind-side before flicking a pass to Anthony Don to cross out wide and with Sezer’s boot still on song, the Titans shot to a 14-6 lead with just over 20 minutes remaining.
With Widdop off the field, a majority of the Storm’s attack was left to halfback Brett Finch and he stepped up to throw a lovely pass to put Will Chambers outside of his man who showed blinding speed to race past two defenders and throw a long-pass back in-field to Hampton to score his second reeling the margin back to 14-12 with 17 minutes remaining.
In the dying stages of the match, the Titans produced some big defence to get the ball in prime attacking position and wrapped the game up when O’Dwyer crossed in the 79th minute to give his side the 18-12 win.
The Titans will look to continue their winning ways, when they take on the Newcastle Knights at Hunter Stadium next week.
Gold Coast Titans 18 (K Gordon, A Don, L O’Dwyer; A Sezer 2 conversions, A Sezer 1 penalty goal) defeated Melbourne Storm 12 (B Hampton 2; G Widdop 1 conversion, M Blair 1 conversion)