The Gold Coast Titans registered back-to-back wins after their 38-14 defeat of the Newcastle Knights in-front of 11,654 fans on Easter Sunday.
The Titans shot-out to a 22-0 half-time lead but were forced to dig-deep in the second-half to keep a barnstorming Knights comeback at bay before putting in their own attacking raid to register their second win of the year.
We’ve dissected the win and highlighted six key features of the match which helped guide the side to the win:
Forward Shake-Up – The Titans team sheet was sent into disarray with Kevin Proctor succumbing to a hip/quad injury and was a withdrawal in the warm-up forcing a forward-line reshuffle with Ryan James pushing to the right edge and Moeaki Fotuaika and Shannon Boyd opening the contest as starting props with former Knight Jack Stockwell coming onto the bench. It went from bad-to-worse for the Titans with skipper James forced from the field with a knee injury in the 12th minute. With the injury, Phillip Sami come from the bench to left wing with Peachey going to left second-rower and Cartwright and Copley pushed to the right-hand side of the field. Despite the shake-up and players playing out of position, the Titans managed to keep their completion rate high at 89% and didn’t look out-of-place in attack as they registered 38 points.
Young Prop shines – With Jarrod Wallace out suspended and the late injuries, young barnstorming prop Moeaki Fotuaika earnt his first start for the Titans and boy did he shine. In his opening stint, he played for 28 minutes and made 10 runs for over 117metres with two tackle-busts. He was tireless in defence as well, notching up 17 tackles. It was a shorter stint for his second-stanza with Fotuaika injected back into the game with 20minutes remaining and the momentum in the Knights favour. It was a shaky start with an error from his first hit-up but he made up for it tightening up his defence, taking another couple of strong hit-ups and will be better for the run.
Super-Sub Sami – With the early injury to Ryan James, Phillip Sami entered the match much earlier than anticipated and he made an immediate impression with the speedy winger capitalising on a Knights dropped-ball to turn defence into attack and race 60 metres to register the Titans first try in the 19th minute. Sami then put his side on the attack in the dying minutes of the first-half racing another 60 metres after taking a quick 20-metre restart to find the Knights defence napping. From the resulting attacking set, the Titans crossed through Brian Kelly to take a 22-0 half-time lead.
Defence into attack – the Titans were rewarded for their defensive efforts and capitalised on errors from the Knights when the visitors were coming out of their red-zone. The Titans registered three of their four tries off the back of keeping the ball alive from a Knights error, something which will be sure to please coach Garth Brennan with the side never giving up and playing to the whistle unlike their opponents.
Kalyn Ponga – When taking on the Knights the one name sure to be on any coach’s sheet is Kalyn Ponga and the Titans did a great job at keeping the dynamic fullback at bay for the opening 65minutes with the Titans jamming him in defence which kept him to just the two line-breaks with one coming inside the opening 20 mins and the other in the opening five minutes of the second-half. But the superstar produced some individual brilliance in 66th minute to score the Knights third try and reduce the deficit back to 28-14. Despite looking to lead the away-side’s comeback efforts the Titans again aimed up on Ponga to keep him at bay in the final minutes of the game.
Double to Former Knight – Tyrone Roberts started his NRL career with the Newcastle Knights and the half proved to be a nightmare for his old side with a commanding first-half forcing two goal-line drop-outs and crossing for a try in the 23rd minute. His defence was on display in the second-half with some wonderful scramble defence to put on a try-saving tackle on Kalyn Ponga in the 58th minute. Unfortunately, Roberts was a little too patient in the defence and was made to pay with Mitch Barnett sneaking past him to plant the ball down and score the Knights second try. Despite this, with the Knights comeback well underway, Roberts steadied the ship with his kicking game and then finished the match in style scoring his second try of the afternoon in the 78th minute before having a hand in the Titans final try in the last minute of the match which saw them take the 38-14 victory.
The Titans are on the road next week and will head to Tamworth for their contest with the Wests Tigers.