The Aquis Titans have unleashed their ruthless streak in a 26-6 win in their Round 24 NRL clash with the Newcastle Knights at Hunter Stadium.
After almost a month of knife-edge results, Gold Coast only allowed its tryline to be breached once in an impressive performance that keeps the club’s top eight hopes on track.
Their big boppers came to play in the Hunter, with front-rowers contributing three of the four tries in a show of strength from Gold Coast.
The win kept the Titans in eighth place on the ladder and ensured a finals-shaping battle against the Panthers (seventh) next Saturday at Cbus Super Stadium.
Penrith is just one competition point ahead of the Gold Coast, and the winner of that match will be guaranteed entry into next month’s finals.
Ryan James’s double and a try to Luke Douglas ensured hooker Nathan Peats’s 100th NRL game was a winning one.
Centre Konrad Hurrell also played like an extra prop, adding 193 running metres from 20 hit-ups.
Playmaker Tyrone Roberts was a welcome late inclusion for the Titans, rotated into the halves to give youngster Ashley Taylor a spell.
The talking point, however, was front-rower James whose opening 25 minutes bludgeoned the Knights.
James’s first shift included a whopping 13 carries for 116 running metres to set a workmanlike tone for the team.
And he was rewarded with two tries in that blitz as the Titans bolted to an 18-0 lead.
Any suggestion the Knights would roll over was flattened when the home side fought back at the end of the first half.
Nathan Ross’s 90m intercept try empowered the last-placed side which trailed by 12 points at halftime and was still in the contest after 46 minutes.
Discipline with and without the ball enabled the Titans maintain control over the Novocastrians in the second half.
At one point their completion rate was a near-immaculate 92 per cent which enabled the playmakers to heap set after attacking set on the Knights.
Roberts and Jarryd Hayne used pinpoint kicks to keep the hosts camped near their goal line and forced at least four dropouts on the Nathan Brown-coached outfit.
When Douglas capitalised on some back-pedalling defence to score from a quick tap in the 49th minute, Gold Coast surged to a dominant 24-6 lead.
It was pure grit from the Titans over the last 20 minutes.
With nothing to lose, the Knights launched several long-range breaks which were only snuffed out thanks to desperate tackles from Nene Macdonald, Hayne and Josh Hoffman.
AQUIS TITANS 26 (R James 2, C McQueen, L Douglas tries; T Roberts 5 goals) d NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 6 (N Ross try; T Hodkinson goal) at Hunter Stadium.