The Gold Training Gold Coast Titans NYC side have fallen outside of the top-eight with a heart-breaking 36-34 loss to the Brisbane Broncos at Cbus Super Stadium this afternoon.
In a tight contest, the young Titans fought their way back from a 30-16 deficit to get within two-points of the Broncos when the visitors looked to have put the match to bed in the 73rd minute with winger Thane Kellermeyer crossing.
But to their credit, the Titans continued to compete and when winger Corey Dansey-Smaller scored his second of the afternoon in the 78th minute the side was back within two-points but they knocked the ball on from the resulting kick-off to fall just short and with the loss, slip to ninth spot on the competition ladder.
Coach Ben Woolf was forced into a couple of changes with both Corey Manicaros and Blake Justin Fai ruled out due to injury. Bostyn Hakaraia started at hooker whist Darius Farmer started at lock forward in just his second game of the year.
The Broncos opened their account in their opening set, creating some room down the left and centre Gehamat Shibasaki sliced through to score. Halfback Gerome Burns converted from the sideline to give the visitors an early 6-nil lead after just four minutes of play.
The Titans got back into the swing of things and went set for set with the Broncos, turning it into points in the 11th minute. It was a shift to the right and winger Curtis Dansey-Smaller flirted with the sideline but managed to stay in-field, scoring in the south-west corner. Ethan Roberts couldn’t convert from out wide, with the Broncos holding on to a 6-4 lead.
The Broncos were causing some concern down the left and back rower Brandon Russell took advantage, cruising through the defensive line and going over to score in the 16th minute. Burns again converted, extending the lead out to 12-4.
An error coming out of their own end gifted the Broncos possession once again in good field position and once again they turned it into points. On this occasion it was five-eighth Josh Fauid with the show and go, fooling the defence and going over to score. Burns converted with the scoreboard reading 18-4.
The Titans hit-back in the 28th minute through crafty halfback AJ Brimson who dummied his way through the line before carrying two players over to plant the ball down under the posts. With Roberts adding the extras, the Titans reduced the deficit back to 18-10.
A repeat set on the Broncos line presented the Titans with a golden opportunity and they went back-to-back with Daniel Brownbill running a great line to get across to plant the ball down before Roberts converted to reduce the margin back to 18-16
But the Broncos finished the half strongly with second-rower Kotoni Staggs crossing for a try in the final set-of-play. With Burns adding the extras, the away-side took a 24-16 lead into the break.
The Broncos started the second-half as strongly as they finished the first with their forwards making in-roads up the middle before Shibasaki reaped the rewards finishing a backline play to cross in the corner for his second. Burns kept his perfect record with the boot and slotted the conversion to extend the lead out to 30-16 with 35 minutes remaining.
The contest turned into an arm-wrestle with both sides going end-to-end but it was the Titans who broke the stalemate with utility Zae Wallace slicing his way through the Broncos defence to score under the posts to give Roberts an easy conversion to reduce the deficit back to 30-22 with 22 minutes remaining.
A penalty piggy-backed the Titans up the field and they took full advantage with bulking utility Kobe Tararo barging his way across the field to score adjacent to the posts. With Roberts adding the extras, the Titans trailed 30-28 going into the final 15 minutes.
But the Broncos made the task all the more difficult with winger Thane Kellermeyer finishing a long distance raid to score in the corner before Burns added the extras to give the visitors a 36-28 lead going into the final three minutes.
The young Titans ensured for an exciting finish with Dansey-Smaller crossing in the corner for his second try of the afternoon. With Roberts off injured, Bostyn Hakaraia stepped up to take the kick and added the extras to reduce the deficit back to 36-34 with 90 seconds to go.
But in an attempt to pull off a miracle, the Titans knocked the ball on to give the visitors the 36-34 victory and fall just outside of the top-eight.
They will look to hit-back when they take on the St George-Illawarra Dragons next week.
Brisbane Broncos 36 (G Shibasaki 2, B Russell, J Fauid, K Staggs, T Kellermeyer tries; G Burns 6 goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 34 (C Dansey-Smaller 2, A Brimson, D Brownbill, Z Wallace, K Tararo tries; E Roberts 4; B Hakaraia 1 goals)