U20s go squander lead again
For the second successive week our boys squandered a half-time lead in the under-20s Holden Cup, going down 36-34 to the North Queensland Cowboys after being in front 24-6 at the break.
The Titans scored four tries to one and being in control for most of their best half-game so far this season. But, like in Canberra last Sunday when they led 16-10 at half-time, they started the second half badly, conceding two tries in the first six minutes to give the Cowboys confidence and momentum.
First half tries came to winger Zac Spring in the fifth minute and, after the Cowboys levelled the scores, to centre Jaiden Hawkes and second-rower Caleb Morehu. When centre Connor Broadhurst went over after the Titans ran the ball on the last tackle, it was 24-6 after 34 minutes and coach Ben Woolf would have been happy with how constructive his side had been and how organised and tight the defence was.
However, the complexion of the game changed dramatically. It was 24-18 before the home side had gathered any composure, with two quick Cowboys tries. Hooker James Wedderburn-Parish scooted over from a clever dummy-half run in the 53rd minute to give the Titans a 28-18 lead but within six minutes the Cowboys were again back in the game at 28-24.
At 34-24 after halfback Deacon Fletcher converted good pressure into points after stepping through the defence from close to the line, the Titans looked like they were set to earn their first competition points of the season.
But, again, their defence lapsed, dropping off too many tackles. Twelve minutes from time, the Cowboys scored after receiving a fortunate bounce after a last-tackle chip kick to go to 30-34 behind.
With four minutes later they struck again, with dummy-half Josh Chudleigh looking to be tied up a metre before the line only to wriggle out of the tackle and in a 50-50 call by the referee when a double movement looked imminent, he was awarded a try. However, the Titans defence should have held him out.
The Titans had one more throw of the dice and were given a penalty to get them up-field but could not find the winning score.
Cowboys 36 (Grant, Harris, Jensen, Schulte, Redman, Chudleigh tries; Grant 6 goals) beat iSelect Titans 34 (Spring, Hawkes, Morehu, Broadhurst, Wedderburn-Parish, Fletcher tries; Fletcher 5 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium.