iSelect Gold Titans coach John Cartwright has praised his team’s brave performance after producing a heart-racing 12-8 victory over the Brisbane Broncos at Cbus Super Stadium tonight.
In front of a bumper crowd of 20,524 crowd, the Titans trailed 8-0 going into the final 20 minutes of the game and were under the immense pressure from a rampaging Broncos outfit after losing Anthony Don and Ash Harrison to injury.
But the Titans showed a great amount of tenacity to stay in the contest before some individual brilliance from David Mead who scored a length of the field try, and Aidan Sezer, who scored the match-winning try to secure the Titans the win to keep them on top of the NRL ladder.
Cartwright said he was expecting a close-encounter but was happy with the team’s ability to ground out the win.
“To win tonight, I thought was always going to be a tight affair and it worked out that way,” Cartwright said.
“I was sort of worried where our points were going to come from in the end, we threw a lot at them and they repelled us.
“We had to score two tries to get in front and I was worried where the points would come from but again they were patient and they won the yardage game and a bit of individual brilliance and not-giving up on a kick got the result.
“When the game got tough they got tough with it.”
iSelect co-captain Nate Myles said the Titans' early season form can be attributed to the team’s attitude off the field.
“I think everyone has just stepped up a little bit in regards to how they are at training and away from football as well so I think that’s starting to rub off a bit,” Myles said
“I have no doubt that if we drop away in how we are at training and lose that little edge of professionalism I’m sure it will show on the field, so we’ve just got to keep working hard and trying to improve.
“Although we’re not playing the football we’re aiming to it’s a step in the right direction and the boys are starting to see the results by the wins and staying in the contest.”
The contest started with the Titans having a run of early possession thanks to the kicking games of Albert Kelly and Sezer, but they were unable to post points on the ball.
The game soon turned into a real arm-wrestle and the Titans had to focus their attention on defence and when utility Paul Carter pulled off a crunching tackle on Corey Parker to force the ball free the Titans surged back on the attack.
But, there was no stopping the Broncos in the 30th minute when crafty halfback Ben Hunt sliced through the Titans defence before passing to Alex Glenn who returned the ball back inside to Hunt to score under the posts, gifting Corey Parker an easy conversion and the away-side a 6-0 lead.
The Titans continued to threaten the Broncos line and went close on a few occasions but just couldn’t break through the Broncos defence and had to settle to go into the half-time break trailing 6-0.
It was a poor start for the Titans with back-to-back penalties piggy-backing the Broncos up-field where they received a third successive penalty and opted to take the kick to extend their lead to 8-0 with 35 minutes remaining.
The Titans' woes worsened just minutes later with injuries forcing both Anthony Don (hand) and Ashley Harrison (arm/shoulder) from the field.
The Titans looked to have conceded another try in the 60th minute when utility Todd Lowrie got across the line but some desperate Titans defence denied the visitors from adding to their lead. That defencing effort, and the next play, virtually decided the match.
From the resulting play-the-ball, the Titans turned defence-into-attack when Mead scooped up a Hunt grubber to run the length of the field and score out wide. With Sezer adding the extras from the sideline the Titans trailed 8-6 with just under 20 minutes remaining.
The fast-paced game turned into an arm-wrestle and the Titans looked to have hit the lead when Brad Takairangi got across the line but some desperate Ben Barba defence managed to stop the ball from hitting the ground.
The Broncos then went on the attack and some great scrambling on-line defence forced Hoffman to lose the ball over the line and relieve all pressure.
The Titans continued to threaten the Broncos line and they were rewarded in the 73rd minute when Sezer produced a brilliant effort to steal the ball from Barba while contesting an Albert Kelly bomb to score next to the posts to give himself an easy conversions and his side a 12-8 lead going into the final minutes.
The Titans received a penalty on the full-time siren and Greg Bird’s penalty kick bounced back into the play to the Broncos who had one last frantic attempt to keep the ball alive but some great defence forced the ball over the touchline to give the Titans the 12-8 win.
Gold Coast Titans 12 (D Mead, A Sezer; A Sezer 2 goals) defeated Brisbane Broncos 8 (A Glenn; C Parker goal; C Parker penalty goal)