The Gold Training Gold Coast Titans NYC side have been forced to settle for a 26-all draw with the Wests Tigers at Cbus Super Stadium this afternoon.
It was a tale of two halves, with the young Titans producing a dominant first-half performance to shoot out to a 26-6 half-time lead after an unlikely double to prop Justn Fai which put the side on the ascendency early.
But the 15th placed Tigers outfit showed tremendous courage in the second-half and with only one-healthy player on the bench, managed to score four unanswered second-half tries to tie the match-up at 26-all with ten minutes remaining.
The young Titans had two field-goal attempts in the dying minutes but were unable to get one through the posts and were forced to settle for the draw and take only one-competition point to keep their finals hopes alive in a heavily contested top-eight tussle.
It was the Titans who opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a deft cut-out pass from Zae Wallace from dummy-half resulting in forward Justin Fai barging over next to the posts to give Ethan Roberts an easy conversion and the side a 6-0 lead.
An error by the Tigers gifted the Titans a prime attacking opportunity and they produced the same play to double their score with Wallace putting Fai over next to the posts. With Roberts converting, the young Titans took a 12-0 lead after ten minutes.
The Titans forcied an error from a kick and were rewarded for their defensive efforts after producing a lovely scrum-play with fullback Tyronne Roberts-Davis throwing a 20 metre cut-out pass to winger Tre Williams to score in the corner to extend the side’s lead out to 16-0 after 18 minutes.
But the Tigers hit-back to post their first points in the 21st minute with Jai Doolan supporting a brilliant bust up the middle to outpace the Titans defence and cross next to the posts giving James Tautaiolefua an easy conversion to reduce the deficit back to 16-6.
A penalty piggy-backed the Titans up the field and they capitalised through Roberts-Davis who sliced his way through the Tigers defence to score in the corner and extend the lead out to 20-6 after 25 minutes.
The Titans dominance continued and they crossed for their fifth try in the dying minutes of the half with AJ Brimson showing and going to slice through and score a brilliant individual try next to the posts. With Roberts-Davis converting the Titans took a 26-6 lead into the half-time break.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring of the second-half with centre Toni Tali reeling in a cross-field kick to score in the corner before Tautaiolefua added the extras to reduce the Titans lead to 26-12 after 47 minutes.
On the back of a penalty, the Tigers went back-to-back with utility forward Jarrod Tompkins barging his way through the Titans’ defensive line to score under the posts. With Tautaiolefua adding the extras, the Titans lead had slimmed to 26-18.
The Tigers comeback was well underway in the 57th minute with Thomas Mikaele finishing some great lead-up play to cross in the corner and with the conversion attempt sailing wide, the Titans lead 26-22 with 20 minutes remaining.
The Tigers managed to lock the scores up at 26-all in the 68th minute with Tali barging over for his second-try of the afternoon but with Tautaiolefua unable to add the extras, the crowd was set for an exciting final ten minutes.
With both sides unable to break the deadlock, they were forced to settle for the 26-all draw and each take the one competition point.
The young Titans will take on the Brisbane Broncos at Cbus Super Stadium next week.
Gold Coast Titans 26 (J Fai 2, T Williams, T Roberts-Davis, A Brimson tries; E Roberts 2, T Roberts-Davis 1 goals) draw Wests Tigers 26(T Tali 2, J Doolan, J Tompkins, T Mikaele tries; J Tautaiolefua 3 goals)