The iSelect Gold Coast Titans finals hopes have suffered a blow after going down 24-18 to the Parramatta Eels at Cbus Super Stadium tonight.
The loss sees the Titans drop two vital competition points coming into the business end of the season and leaves the side needing to win a minimum of four of their last six games to be in contention for the finals, and more than likely five.
The Titans sit two points out of the top-eight on 20 competition points but with a heavy congestion of teams vying for the important positions, the Titans will need to finish strongly.
Despite the loss, Titans coach John Cartwright believes his side is showing enough effort to challenge for a position in the finals.
“Mathematically (we are still a chance), we are competing reasonable well. Obviously we are going to need to turn things around in winning tight games and here at home. No one is giving up, I can guarantee that,” Cartwright said.
“We will keep trying; we will do whatever it takes, whatever we can do. It is important that the players are seeing the coaches haven’t given up and we are working and doing everything we can to give us a bit of an edge.
Cartwright also added he thought his side looked good in patches but it was the brilliance of Jarryd Hayne which proved the difference.
“We did a good job on him early, but two or three bits of brilliance and he took the game away from us. He’s just that good; there are a few players in the game that can do what he does,” he said.
“It’s a tough old competition. We set ourselves up to win the game and it wasn’t a lack of effort that cost us the game it was the brilliance of Jarryd Hayne which cost us the game.”
After chasing possession for much of the first half, defending six successive sets at one stage, the Titans went to half-time at 8-6 ahead and led 12-6 early in the second half after a brilliant try to Anthony Don from a Daniel Mortimer kick but Jarryd Hayne and Chris Sandow dominated for the Eels in the last half hour to lead them to a 24-12 lead until the final minute.
The Titans opened the scoring with Brad Takairangi holding up a deft cut-out pass to a barnstorming Dave Taylor to score before Kevin Gordon added the extras to give the side an early 6-0 lead.
The visitors hit-back in the 19th minute with a long Chris Sandow cut-out pass putting Ken Sio over in the corner before Sandow added the extras to level the scores up at 6-all.
The Eels looked to have got across the line but the video-referee rightfully ruled Ryan Morgan knocked the ball on in the mid-air contest.
The video-referee was called in for a possible Titans try minutes later but again ruled a no-try with the Willliam Hopoate showing immense strength to hold up Kalifa Fai Fai Loa.
In a tight contest with points proving difficult to come by, the Titans received a penalty in front of the posts and opted to take the kick to edge them to an 8-6 lead going into the half-time break.
The Titans opened the scoring in the second-half with Daniel Mortimer showing great vision to put a deft cross-filed kick in for Anthony Don to score in the corner to extend the Titans lead out to 12-6 after 50 minutes.
A crucial moment came six minutes into the second half when Mark Ioane broke clear and was tackled by Jarryd Hayne. As he tried to get a quick play the ball, he lost it with Hayne crowding him and a penalty could have easily gone to the Titans but instead referee Shayne Hayne ruled a knock on. Don scored after the set started on the Titans’ line but the earlier momentum could have been crucial.
Instead, the turning point came four minutes after Don’s try from a piece of individual brilliance by Hayne. The dynamic fullback broke a Greg Bird tackle before racing 60 metres downfield to beat Gordon to the try line. With Sandow adding the extras from the sideline the game was tied up at 12-all with 25 minutes remaining.
It was Hayne who broke the deadlock in the 61st minute after steaming onto a Sandow offload to score under the posts to give Sandow an easy conversion to extend the visitors lead out to 18-12.
The Eels extended their lead in the 69th minute with a Sandow grubber bouncing out of Mortimer’s grasp before Corey Norman cleaned up to put it down under the posts. With Sandow adding the extras the Titans trailed 24-12 with less than ten minutes remaining.
The Titans finished the game scoring a consolation try in the final minute with James Roberts showing illusive pace to run 60 metres to score under the posts to give Gordon an easy conversion to reel the full-time deficit back to 24-18.
The Titans will need to hit-back next week when they take on the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville if they want to keep their finals hopes alive.
Parramatta Eels 24 (J Hayne 2, K Sio, C Norman tries; C Sandow 4 goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 18 (D Taylor, A Don, J Roberts tries; K Gordon 3 goals). Crowd 14, 175.