An Aidan Sezer inspired comeback fell just short for the Gold Coast Titans who have suffered their third successive loss after going down 20-18 to the Newcastle Knights at a wet Cbus Super Stadium tonight.
After posting first points, the Titans found themselves trailing 14-6 going into the half-time break before classy pivot Sezer turned the game on its head scoring back-to-back tries to go into the final three minutes leading 18-14.
But the Titans comeback heroics were halted in the 78th minute when Newcastle forward Jeremy Smith scored untouched under the posts to give the away-side an easy conversion attempt to come away with the two competition points.
Titans coach Neil Henry said he was happy with the side’s effort throughout most of the game but says there were lapses in concentration which cost them.
“There was a lot of effort, I can’t question that with large parts of the game completion rates were pretty high, going set-for-set,” he said.
“I was happy with the second-half, but there were parts of the first-half where I thought we needed to be a bit better, but the boys had a real dig out there.
“The nature of their points is disappointing given that we had large chunks of the game where we defended our line very well.
“I’m pleased with our ability to score some points at times but we just didn’t have any field position in the first half. In the second-half we got a bit but in the end a couple of kicks out on the full just gifted them opportunities to attack our line, we defended fairly well but in the end we didn’t hold on.
“There’s real effort around what we are doing for a large chunk of game but you need to have it for 80 minutes against opposition that are full of confidence.”
Captain Nate Myles said despite the loss the talk amongst the team on the field was positive which will help going into the remainder of the season.
“The mood was pretty good, the talk was good; the energy was really good throughout and there was a bit of confidence there too,” Myles said.
Most of the match was played in driving rain which kept the crowd to less than 7000 and determined that both sides gave the ball little movement in the second half.
The Titans withstood some early on-line pressure before a penalty piggy-backed the side out of trouble and they capitalised with a swift back-line play putting Anthony Don across for the opening points of the night. With Sezer nailing the conversion from the touchline the Titans lead 6-0 after eight minutes.
The Knights took advantage of repeat sets on the Titans line with Kurt Gidley holding up a deft short-pass for Beau Scott to run into a gaping hole and score untouched next to the posts to give Tyrone Roberts an easy kick to level the scores up at 6-all after 14 minutes of play.
The Knights went back-to-back after a favourable video-referee decision ruled there was no knock-on from Korbin Sims in the lead up before Dane Gagai outpaced the Titans defence to score under the posts to give his side a 12-6 lead with 20 minutes remaining in the half.
After receiving a penalty 40 metres out and with only a minute remaining in the half, the Knights opted for the conversion attempt and Roberts added the extras to give the away-side a 14-6 half-time lead. That goal proved the difference.
The Titans started the second-half well with some individual Sezer brilliance to put up a bomb to split the Knights fullback Sione Mata’utia and winger Akuila Uate before collecting the bouncing ball to score under the posts to give himself an easy conversion to reel the deficit back to 14-12 after 45 minutes of play.
The Knights looked to have hit-back in the 55th minute when Gidley snuck out from dummy-half to dive over the try-line but some desperate on-goal defence by William Zillman forced the ball loose.
The Titans took the lead back in the 64th minute after Don made a break to scoot 60 metres down field. On the following play-the-ball, the Titans pushed the ball to Sezer who sliced through the Knights’ retreating defence and score under the posts before converting to give his side an 18-14 lead.
The Titans looked likely to conceive a Knights try in the 71st minute but a great one-on-one tackle by Josh Hoffman on Joey Leilua saved a certain try.
There was no stopping the Knights in the 77th minute with Jeremy Smith slicing through some soft defence to score untouched under the posts to give Roberts an easy conversion to give the away-side the 20-18 victory.
The Titans will look to hit-back next week when they take on the Cronulla Sharks at Remondis Stadium
Newcastle Knights 20 (B Scott, D Gagai, J Smith tries; T Roberts 4 goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 18 (A Sezer 2, A Don tries; A Sezer 3 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium. Crowd: 6962.