The Aquis Gold Coast Titans have suffered a heart-breaking 15-14 loss to the Penrith Panthers in their last home-game at Cbus Super Stadium this afternoon.
After fighting back from a 14-0 deficit, the Titans locked the scores up at 14-all going into the final five minutes thanks to a Tyrone Roberst penalty-goal.
But the Panthers ruined the party for the 18,288 strong crowd with captain Matt Moylan producing the match-winning field-goal in the 78th minute to hand the Titans the loss.
The Titans will now need to beat reigning premiers the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville next week to make it into their first finals series since 2010.
The Titans were out-enthused by the Panthers in the first-half with the away-side’s big-men winning the forwards battle and their slick outside back finishing the attacking raids to take a 14-0 lead into the break.
But the Titans got back into the contest in the second-half with tries to Leivaha Pulu and Greg Bird before a late Tyrone Roberts penalty-goal locked the match up at 14-all.
The Panthers opened the scoring in the eighth minute through fullback Matt Moylan who cut-back in-field to catch the Titans defence napping on the last play. With Nathan Cleary adding the extras from in-front the Panthers took a 6-0 lead.
The Titans looked to have forced a drop-out in the 16th minute but a late call by the officials ruled Hayne knocked the ball on. From the following restart the Panthers went the length of the field to go extend their lead after Waqa Blake crossed in the corners before Cleary added the extras for a 12-0 lead after 18 minutes of play.
The Titans looked to have hit-back in the 22nd minute when Josh Hoffman reeled in a Tyrone Roberts bomb but was pulled down just short of the line by some desperate Panthers defence.
Blake got across the line in the 24th minute after collecting a loose ball and racing 90metres downfield but the try was pulled back with Josh Hoffman ruled to be taken out in the contest for the ball.
The Panthers got a penalty 35metres out directly in-front and with they opted to take the kick-at-goal and Cleary added the extras to extend the visitors lead out to 14-0 after 28minutes of play.
The match turned into an arm-wrestle with both side’s trading attacking sets towards the back-end of the half but both defences held strong and they Panthers took a 14-0 lead into the half-time break.
The Titans started the second-half strongly and were rewarded early for their efforts with Leivaha Pulu barging his way across the field to score his first NRL try. With Tyrone Roberts adding the extras the Titans reduced the deficit back to 14-6 after 46minutes of play.
It took an incredible individual effort by Greg Bird to break the stalemate in the 67th minute after the experienced forward took it upon himself to take a charge at the line and carry three players across the line before reaching out to plant the ball down. With Roberts adding the extras the Titans reduce the deficit back to 14-12 going into the final 11 minutes.
A penalty for a high-shot on Ryan James in the 75th minute gifted the Titans an opportunity to level the scores up and Roberts calmly added the extras to tie the match up at 14-all with five minutes remaining.
With the match up for grabs, Tyrone Peachy made a break up the middle to put the Panthers on the attack and they took full advantage with Moylan slotting the field-goal to give the side a 15-14 lead.
The Titans went for the short kick-off but were unable to get the ball back and the Panthers run the clock down to take the win.
The Titans will now head to Townsville where they will take on the Cowboys in a must-win game if they are to make it to the finals.
Penrith Panthers 15 (M Moylan, W Blake tries; N Cleary 3 goals; M Moylan 1 field-goal) defeated Gold Coast Titans 14 (L Pulu, G Bird tries; T Roberts 3 goals)