Heartbreaking loss to wounded U20s
Hooker Delayne Ashby was centimetres away from being a hero when he just missed a conversion after full-time that would have given the Titans under-20s a courageous victory over the Knights after injury threatened to wreck the team’s second half.
The Titans went down 19-18 after leading 10-0 before four players went off injured in the first 12 minutes of the second half.
A dominant defensive display gave the Titans the 10-0 lead at the break before key injuries hit. The first was co-captain Shaun Hudson, concussed for the second week, then five-eighth Karl Lawton, and forwards Max Elliott and Shane Wright. Only Elliott was to return – in the final five minutes.
The undermanned Titans conceded three unanswered tries before throwing the game into an exciting climax in the last three minutes, producing some razzle-dazzle footy to post two tries in two minutes to reel the deficit back to 19-18 and give the home side a kick to win the match after the siren.
With regular goal-kicker Hudson on the sideline, the conversion attempt was taken by Asby who was unable to finish the comeback with the kick just sailing wide to see the Knights take the 19-18 victory.
t was the Titans who opened the scoring with centre Jed Cartwright forcing his way across the line to bag his fourth try in three games to give the home side a 4-0 lead after 12 minutes.
After defusing back-to-back sets by the Knights on their own goal line the Titans managed to post the next points with crafty hooker Deacon Fletcher making a bust up the middle before getting a ball away to Anthony Coleman to score under the posts to give Hudson an easy conversion and the side a 10-0 lead after 25 minutes.
Some gritty online defence by the Titans held the Knights at bay to take a 10-0 lead into the half-time break.
The match turned into an arm-wrestle and it took an enterprising kick down the left-touchline by the Knights to break the deadlock with Bradie Smith scoring untouched under the posts to reel the deficit back to 10-6.
Not long after the Titans lost Hudson, Nathan Watts and Karl Lawton to injury and were forced to finish the match with just one man on the bench.
With the momentum in their favour, the Knights continued their run of possession and capitalised with Dylan Phythian finishing some slick backline play to score in the corner. With Brock Lamb adding the extras from the sideline the Knights took a 12-10 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
The Knights continued their second-half dominance with Josh Birch diving on a deft grubber kick to score out wide before Lamb added the extras to extend the Knights lead out to 18-10 with ten minutes remaining.
The Knights looked to have put the game to bed with Danny Levi plotting a 76th minute field-goal to give the away-side a 19-10 lead.
But the Titans ensured for a tight finish by collecting a short kick-off before winger Christian Mika sliced through the defence to score out wide. With time ticking down the Titans turned down the kick at goal to trail 19-14 with two minutes remaining.
The Titans went the length of the field in their final set and managed to get across the line with Brian Kelly finishing some great team-play to score and give the Titans a kick to win the game.
With Hudson off the field injured, utility Ashby took the conversion attempt but it just sailed wide to give the Knights the 19-18 win.
The Titans will look to hit-back next week when they take on the Cronulla Sharks at Remondis Stadium.
Newcastle Knights 19 (B Smith, D Phythian, J Birch tries; B Lamb 3 goals; D Levi field-goal) defeated Gold Coast Titans18 (J Cartwright, A Coleman, C Mika, B Kelly tries; S Hudson goal)