A 76th minute penalty goal has handed the Gold Training Gold Coast Titans under-20s a heart-breaking 28-26 loss the table-topping Penrith Panthers at Cbus Super Stadium this afternoon.
The young Titans produced a stellar performance to take it to the competition leaders and go into the final ten minutes with scores levelled at 26-all.
The Panthers made a break down the middle of the field but Josh Ralph produced a brilliant one-on-one tackle to save a certain try but was ruled to hold on too long in the tackle leading to a Panthers penalty before their fullback Dylan Edwards calmly added the extras to give his side the win.
Unable to make the finals, the young Titans trailed 10-0 early in the match against the minor-premiers but showed great heart to fight back and go into the half-time break leading 14-10 thanks to a double to David Pritchard.
Both sides traded tries in the second-half but the competition favourites, the Penrith Panthers showed their class to compose their game and register their 17th win of the season.
A penalty put the Panthers on the attack early and they opened the scoring in the eighth minute after halfback Wayde Egan produced a neat pass away to Corey Waddell to cross adjacent to the posts. With Dylan Edwards adding the extras the visitors took a 6-0 lead.
The Panthers turned defence into attack in the 19th minute when Egan collected a Titans grubber on his own try-line to race the length of the field and score in the corner despite a great chase from Josh Ralph. With Edwards kick sailing wide the Panthers lead 10-0.
The Titans hit-back in the 23rd minute after fullback AJ Brimson sliced through the defence on the last play before getting a harbour-bridge pass out to winger David Pritchard to score in the corner to reduce the deficit back to 10-4.
The Titans went back-to-back after catching the Panthers defence short with a crafty blind-side play on the back of a break resulting in Pritchard getting across for his second try of the day. With Rogers adding the extras from the sideline the scores were locked up at 10-all after 31 minutes of play.
An error gifted the Titans an attacking set and they took full advantage to take the lead for the first time in the match in the 35th minute. Second-rower Sam Swift supported a beautiful offload before barging his way across the line, but with Rogers’ kick bouncing astray off the upright the Titans had to settle for a 14-10 lead.
The Titans got across the line in the 40th minute but were denied the try with winger Fred Keil ruled to have propelled the ball forward meaning the side had to settle for the 14-10 lead going into the break.
The Panthers opened the scoring in the second-half thanks to a spectacular finish by winger Ratu Tuisese, who dove superman-like to plant the ball down just inside the touchline to level the match up at 14-all.
With the momentum in their favour, the Panthers took the lead back after a slick backline play resulted in winger Daniel Brown crossing in the corner. With Edwards converting from the sideline the Panthers took a 20-14 lead going into the final 30minutes of play.
The Titans levelled the scores up at 20-all in the 56th minute after some razzle-dazzle footy on the last play. The young Titans ran down the blind-side on the last before getting a kick in-field before Ralph toed it on again and produced a wonderful flick pass to Jordan Scott to score under the posts to give Rogers an easy conversion to tie the game up.
The Titans took the lead back in the 66th minute in fortunate circumstances with Ralph managing to ground the ball over the line after it looked to have been knocked on. But with referee Kasey Badger blowing the whistle, the Titans took a 26-20 lead after Rogers converted from in-front.
The Panthers ensured for a tight finish with centre Braiden Burns crossing out wide before Edwards calmly plotted the extras to tie the match up at 26-all going into the final ten minutes.
The Panthers received a penalty directly in-front in the 76th minute and opted to take the kick-at-goal and with Edwards converting the side took a slim 28-26 lead going into the final minutes.
The Titans had one last play to get across the line but were unable to contain possession and were forced to settle for the narrow 28-26 loss.
The young Titans will be looking to finish the season in style when they take on the North Queensland Cowboys next week.
Penrith Panthers 28 (C Waddell, W Egan, R Tuisese, D Brown, B Burns tries; D Edwards 4 goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 26 (D Pritchard 2, S Swift, J Scott, J Ralph tries; J Rogers 3 goals)