iSelect Gold Coast Titans coach John Cartwright offered no excuses after his side was outplayed and out-enthused by the Wests Tigers in 35 degree heat at a Cbus Super Stadium, going down 42-12 to the Wests Tigers this afternoon.
Further bad news for the Titans was that co-captain Greg Bird left the field late in the match with a shoulder injury and hopes there is no serious damage. Mark Minichiello missed the match because of a virus and was replaced by Ben Ridge.
It was uncharacteristic error-riddled performance by the Titans at home and they were their own worst enemies in the tough conditions, surrendering the ball in crucial field position too often. They conceded two tries in the first seven minutes to be behind 10-0 and seemed to be off the pace in the heat from very early in the game.
Statistics that emerged that the Titans had only 40 per cent of possession and played the ball only 11 times in the Tigers’ quarter.
That allowed the enterprising Tigers attack, led by young halfback Luke Brooks, to make the home side pay dearly, producing four second-half tries to run out eventual 42-12 winner after leading 22-6 at the break.
Cartwright lamented the side’s poor performance and labelled it as “uncharacteristic”.
“I certainly didn’t see that coming, I don’t think the players saw it coming; it was a very average performance,” Cartwright said.
“It started bad and we sort of got our way back into the game. Then we probably tossed up the worst part just before half-time where we got back into the game and then coughed up two tries on the back of a couple of errors and they pretty much took the game away from us.
“You certainly don’t train to do that, you don’t plan for it to happen. Things conspired today and that’s what we tossed up, I’m not going to sit here and make excuses, it was a bad display by the team, and I can’t paint any other picture.
“We’ve just got to put it to one side it was uncharacteristic for the group and we just got sweep it aside, we’ll deal with it tomorrow and then from Tuesday we’ve just got to look forward to Canberra”.
Bird was unsure about the severity of his shoulder injury but is hopeful it was just a ‘burner’ but his main concern was about the team’s performance.
“It’s a bit sore, won’t really know until tomorrow but hoping it’s just a burner, it went dead there for a few minutes. The shoulder hit right on Keith Galloway’s hip and had nothing in it,” Bird said.
“It was frustrating, usually when we get behind on the board we get together and work our way out if as a team.
“I think everyone probably got a little bit individual out there and everyone tried to do it on their own and then all the individuals made individual mistakes dropped balls and missed tackles, we weren’t working together as a group and I think it showed.
“There’s no reason why we couldn’t of turned it around, I thought when Sezer scored that try we were going to bounce back and get some ball and the tide was going to turn for us but it didn’t and we compounded a lot of errors on top of each other.
“We’ve got to address everything that we did wrong, we can’t just brush it off like it didn’t happen. We will train hard this week, that’s the good thing about rugby league and this early in the season we can make amends quite quickly next week.”
Some crafty backline play by the Tigers early on after a Titans error, created space for Pat Richards to score in the left corner after just four minutes, with the winger unable to convert his try the Tigers had to settle for an early 4-0 lead after five minutes of play.
On the back of a Robbie Farah break, the Tigers gained easy metres and they capitalised on the last play when a neat Brooks grubber was collected by fullback James Tedesco who scored untouched under the posts, giving Richards an easy conversion to extend the visitors lead out to 10-0 after ten minutes of play.
The Titans hit-back in the 24th minute when Bird sliced through the defensive line before drawing-and-passing to Sezer to score under the posts before converting his own try to reel the deficit back to 10-6.
On the back of a repeat set the Tigers extended their lead after a crafty cut-out pass by Braith Anasta found Richards who dived over the line to grab his second try before converting from the sideline to take the visitors to a 16-6 lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the half.
In the dying minutes of the half, Brooks and Tedesco combined to get the Tigers some quality field positions and they took full advantage when Bodene Thompson raked in an Anasta kick to score next to the posts, and with Richards converting the Tigers took a 22-6 lead with two minutes remaining.
It was an exciting finish to the half with some scrambling defence by the Titans keeping the razzle-dazzle Tigers at bay.
It was a bad start to the second-half with the Tigers going the length of the field in their opening set before a Brooks bomb bounced astray of the posts before being collected by Cory Patterson who crossed only to be denied by the video-ref for a double knock-on.
There was no stopping the Tigers from the resulting scrum with winger David Nofoaluma barging through four would-be defenders to cross next to the posts to extend the Tigers lead out to 28-6 after 43 minutes of play.
The Titans error count was mounting and the Tigers made them pay when a Farrah wrap-around resulted in prop Martin Taupau barnstorming across the line to gift Richards another easy conversion to extend the Tigers lead out 34-6 with 20 minutes remaining.
Against the run of play, Albert Kelly scooped up a loose ball and ran 90 metres down field to score under the posts and with Sezer converting the Titans reeled the deficit back to 34-12 with under 15 minutes of play remaining.
The Titans suffered a blow minutes later with Bird being forced from the field.
The combination of Brooks and Tedesco again produced some magical play, this time Brooks chipped through for Tedesco who in turn punted the ball forward before Brooks regathered to score out wide, with Richards converting the Tigers lead 40-12 with eight minutes remaining.
The Tigers were rewarded a penalty on the eve of full-time and Richards slotted the 35 metre penalty goal to give the Tigers the 42-12 win.
The Tigers will look to hit-back next week when they take on the Canberra Raiders at GIO stadium.
Wests Tigers 42 (P Richards 2, J Tedesco, B Thompson, D Nofoaluma, M Taupau, L Brooks; P Richards 6 conversions; P Richards 1 penalty-goal) defeated Gold Coast Titans 12 (A Sezer, A Kelly; A Sezer 2 conversions).