The Gold Coast Titans under-20s have had another heartbreaking narrow loss against Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval after again failing to complete the match with 17 players.
They went down 34-32 after losing backs Brian Kelly and Jed Cartwright and prop Max Elliott in the first 50 minutes. Yet they were in the game, fighting back from 20-6 down, until the final minute when a dropped ball when on the attack 30m from the Tigers line stopped a late flurry.
The Titans, yet again, began well and were on the ball after less than three minutes when fullback Shaun Hudson scored down the right side in the first set of possession after the Tigers made an error in their first set.
Jed Cartwright converted from wide out to make it 6-0 but the Tigers responded too soon with winger Obed Karwhin scoring under the posts after five-eighth Te Maire Martin ran across field on the last tackle and causing an overlap. Veiru Mapesone’s conversion made it 6-all.
The Tigers scored another two converted tries in a period where the Titans conceded too many penalties and errors but also lost two players for the match with injury. First winger Brian Kelly went off with a knee injur7 after crashing into the fence after unsuccessfully chasing a kick, then prop Max Elliott was escorted off with a leg injury.
Bailey Sironen was the first to score then left centre Watson Heleta in the same spot, both tries converted by Mapesone to make it 18-6. Mapesone then kicked a goal from another penalty.
But Daymeric Pelo brought the Titans right back into the match in the final seconds of the half when he crashed over from close range, with Cartwright converting for 20-12.
It took only in minutes of the second half for the Titans to close the gap to two points when Cartwright, playing on the left wing with Kelly off the field, scored from an overlap then converted from wide out for 20-18.
Cartwright was almost in again but had the ball knocked from his grasp in the left corner but to make matters worse he suffered an ankle injury in the process and limped off the field, leaving the Titans with 14 men.
Shaun Hudson took on the kicking duties and levelled at 20-all with a penalty goal.
It went play for play, opportunity for opportunity, for the remainder of the match – 26-10 Tigers, 26-24, 30-26 after a try to Karl Lawton who was forced to the right wing with Kelly and Cartwright off the field. Hudson converted with 10 minutes remaining.
Tigers halfback Mapesone scored and missed the conversion for 34-26 and then Greg Lelesiuao scored and Hudson converted to throw the game wide open with four minutes remaining.
Tigers 34 (Karwhin 2, Sironen, Heleta, Jacobs, Mapesone tries; Mapesone 5 goals) beat Titans 32 (Hudson, Pelo, Cartwright, Lawton, Lelesiuao tries; Cartwright goals).