A courageous undermanned Titans suffered a heartbreaking one-point loss to start the season when Tigers winger Pat Richards kicked a 40m field goal with just two seconds remaining at Cbus Super Stadium tonight.
With the scores locked at 18-all, the Titans twice lost possession in good position to give the Tigers one last throw of the dice in the final minutes.
On the last tackle of regular time with just one shot at victory before the game went into extra-time, Richards came into centre field and the ball went to Luke Brooks to kick but he shuffled the ball to Richards with more space and he came up with an outstanding pressure kick to break the hearts of the crowd of over 14,000.
Seconds earlier Aidan Sezer had a shot to break the deadlock (77th minute) but it was shut down and another couple of lost possessions cruelled possible match-winning opportunities. But it was a tremendously enthusiastic performance that macked of character under the circumstances which saw seven players missing.
At the end of the night though, the Titans were in a position to win the match after fighting back from 18-12 down with a try to centre James Roberts from dummy half and a pressure conversion by Aidan Sezer. Crucial errors at the Tigers’ end of the field were the difference, along with some crucial referees’ calls that went against the Titans.
There was much to like about the performance of a team with six club debutants.
“The boys really put in tonight and the character we showed to turn up for each other was outstanding, it was just a pity we didn’t get the points,” said Sezer, one of the team’s best.
“We want to make this a fortress, every time we step foot onto Cbus we want it to be really hard for the opposing team to win and I think tonight was a big step in that direction.”
“We had our opportunities and we were attacking their line and had some points available but we didn’t get another crack down their end,” said coach Neil Henry. “I was really happy with the effort and attitude but it was very disappointing to lose that way with two seconds to go. I think the fans who turned up saw a committed team that had a real dig and was a little unlucky.”
“The effort was there but a couple of crucial errors added up to a one-point loss,” lamented Nate Myles aptly.
The Titans led 12-6 at half-time thanks to a great try from Ryan James on the left edge 90 seconds before the break.
After back-to-back penalties, Aidan Sezer threw a brilliant ball to James right at the line a couple of metres out and the big second-rower took two defenders over with him as he just made the try-line. Sezer’s conversion have the home side a six-point break.
Earlier James Roberts gave the Titans a dream start when he raced throw inside Pat Richards and got the edge with speed to latch onto a terrific grubber into the in-goal on the right side from Daniel Mortimer.
Sezer’s kick hit the right post to leave the score at 4-0.
Then came some controversy. James Tedesco was put onto the attack 20 metres out after a line-ball pass from debutant Kyle Lovett. Play was allowed to continue and James was offside at the play the ball an intercepted a pass that may had led to a try on the right side.
He was sin-binned for 10 minutes and from the ensuing set Pat Richards scored from an overlap in the left corner, then converted to level the scores.
But James’ try swung the game back to the Titans who received a rousing reception from the good crowd as they left the field for the break.
The Tigers brought it back to 12-10 at the 10th-minute into the second half when Pat Richards scored his second try when the Tigers took advantage of a third set at the Titans after a penalty and line-drop out. Richards missed the conversion.
Another couple of penalties saw the Tigers head up field and Richards levelled the scores from a goal after James was penalised for contact on Mitchell Moses as he kicked on the last.
Farah put his side right back on the attack when he shocked the Titans with a 40-20. Aaron Woods looked like he had scored two rucks later but the video replays showed he pulled up short in the tackle of Pettybourne and Mortimer.
But just three plays later the Tigers went to the left and James Tedesco took James Roberts on at the line and got the ball down. Richards converted for 18-12 to the Tigers.
The controversial moment of the game came when Tigers five-eighth Mitchell Moses took Will Zillman high in an ugly tackle. The crowd screamed for him to be sent from the field, ref Gavin Badger just put him on report.
After another penalty gave the Titans another set, James Roberts scored when he pivoted from dummy half and went over. Sezer converted from wide out to level the scores at 18-all.
Kevin Gordon intercepted and ran 70m but the Tigers defence ran him down and we lost the ball before we could set for a field goal. Up the other end suddenly, Aidan Sezer set for a field goal but his kick was charged down by Aaron Woods.
We were in a golden opportunity to seal the match when on the attack with three minutes to go but James lost the ball metres from the line. In our next shot at them, Nate Myles lost the ball on the fourth tackle and poor handling was costing us dearly.
Then came the devastating moment ... two seconds from the game becoming a second-phase contest.
Wests Tigers 19 (Pat Richards 2, James Tedesco tries; Richards 3 goals) def. Gold Coast Titans 18 (James Roberts, Ryan James tries; Aidan Sezer 2 goals). Crowd: 14,319. Half-time: 12-6 Titans. Sin-bin: Ryan James (Titans, 25th minute). On report: Ryan James (Titans, 56th), Mitchell Moses (Tigers, 68th), Martin Taupau (Tigers, 76th).