A William Zillman field-goal in Golden Point has guided the iSelect Gold Coast Titans to a courageous 19-18 victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Cbus Super Stadium this afternoon.
Without a host of first-grade players including co-captains Nate Myles and Greg Bird, the Titans trailed 18-0 going into the half-time break and the challenge was made more difficult losing Paul Carter, Beau Falloon and David Mead early in the second-half to injury.
But the brave Titans hit-back to post four unanswered tries with Brad Takairangi scoring in the 78th minute to tie the scores up at 18-all and force the game to go into Golden Point.
Some dominant runs up the middle by the Titans forwards put the side in good attacking position and Zillman calmly plotted the 20 metre field-goal in the 84th minute to give the side their ninth win of the season and send departing foundation players Mark Minichiello, Ashley Harrison and Luke Bailey out in spectacular fashion.
It was a frustrating season for the Titans who at one stage lead the competition but a large injury toll took its toll midway through the year forcing the Titans to settle for 14th on the competition ladder.
Titans coach Neil Henry said he was proud of his side to come away with the win in such trying circumstances.
“It was a tough, whole-hearted effort out there, it was a real gutsy display by the boys it’s no secret we’re depleted and we got a few injuries in the game so that’s just hanging in there.
“We got a result in the end so that’s great for the guys leaving the club and the fans to finish on that note. It was a whole-hearted effort against the odds.
“We went set-for-set them and we got a bit of a sniff. I thought in the end scoring more tries than them we deserved the result. It’s satisfying for the fans and the players to get a result.
Titans’ stand-in captain Zillman said he was prepared to take the field-goal and was happy to send the departing players out in such exciting fashion.
“I said to Morts to give me the ball because I wanted to take the shot. There was a bit of a stuff around in the play-the-ball it took a little while but it worked out in the end,” Zillman said.
It‘s a good feeling to be able to send those guys leaving the club off winners. It’s good to have a good quality win at home not only for us but for the fans who have stuck with by for the year; overall it’s a good feeling.”
It was the visitors who opened the scoring in the 11th minute with Josh Jackson making a break through the middle before getting a pass away to Tim Lafai to score under the posts giving Trent Hodkinson an easy conversion for a 6-0 lead.
The Bulldogs went back-to-back with Lafai making a break to put the Titans defence in scrambles before Michael Ennis threw a cut-out pass from dummy-half to put James Graham in under the posts. With Hodkinson converting the Bulldogs took a 12-0 lead after 16 minutes of play.
With the game turning into an arm-wrestle it took some broken field play from Reni Maitua to break the stalemate with the Bulldogs utility racing across field before slicing through to score adjacent to the posts. Hodkinson added the extras to give his side a 18-0 lead going in into the final minutes of the half.
The half ended in bizarre fashion with Josh Reynolds running over the sideline before deliberately throwing the ball forward to Anthony Don before running down the tunnel. The referee awarded a penalty to give the Titans one last chance but they were unable to get across the line and were forced to settle for an 18-0 half-time deficit.
The Titans opened the scoring in the second-half when Kalifa Faifai Loa cleaned up a Sezer kick to score out-wide but with Sezer failing to add the extras the Titans trailed 18-4 with 26 minutes left in the game.
The Titans turned defence into attack in the 60th minute when Anthony Don scooped up a loose ball on his own defensive line to race 80 metres to outpace Graham and score under the posts before Sezer added the extras to reduce the deficit back to 18-10.
The Titans comeback efforts were in full swing in the 72nd minute when Minichiello received an offload on his bootlaces before forcing his way across the line. With Sezer’s conversion unsuccessful the Titans trailed 18-14.
The Titans comeback was complete in the 78th minute with Takairangi forcing his way across the line to tie the scores up at 18-all. With Sezer off injured the conversion kick was left to Daniel Mortimer but the kick bounced away of the upright sending the game into Golden Point.
The Bulldogs had the first attempt at field-goal but Hodkinson’s kick missed to the right giving the Titans a 20 metre restart. From the restart, the Titans barged their way down the field to put Zillman into a kicking position and the zippy fullback calmly plotted the kick to give the Titans the 19-18 victory.
Gold Coast Titans 19 (K Faifai Loa, A Don, M Minichiello, B Takairangie; A Sezer goal; W Zillman field-goal) defeated Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 18 (T Lafai, J Graham, R Maitua tries; T Hodkinson 3 goals)