A second-half rampage from a finals-bound Parramatta has condemned the Titans to another loss at Cbus Super Stadium, with the Eels running away with a 36-12 win over an out-gunned Gold Coast.
Trailing only 12-6 at halftime, the Titans looked like they were poised to spring an upset over the Eels after a more confident display in the first half.
But the Eels looked every inch a team running sixth on the ladder as they found another gear in the second half, as the Gold Coast frittered away the possession and field position they worked hard to earn.
The Titans never gave up, and again there were positive signs for Gold Coast fans to cling to: Fotuaika, Proctor, Stone, Whitbread and Arrow working hard in an out-gunned engine room; the attacking spark of Mitch Rein at dummy-half, a promising right-side combination building between Kallum Watkins and Phil Sami, the individual efforts of Brian Kelly and Kevin Proctor.
And it should be remembered a virtual battalion of first-grade stars – led by Ryan James, Shannon Boyd, Tyrone Roberts, Jarrod Wallace, Jack Stockwell and Dale Copley – were missing from the team that faced the Eels.
But unfortunately, the scoreboard doesn’t record things like effort and injuries – only wins, and the Titans have been in short supply of them this season.
The Eels looked to have a dream start to the match when they claimed a try in the very first minute of the game after Titans winger Jesse Arthars spilled a bomb close to his own line, but the video referee interjected with a knock-on call to save the Gold Coast’s blushes.
Three times the Eels got across the chalk inside the first 14 minutes of the game, but some more resolute defence from the Titans and the occasional pinch of luck helped to stem the damage to only six points, before the Eels pushed out to 12-0 through a Manu Ma’u try in the 23rd minute.
But the decision by Gold Coast Senior Coach Craig Hodges to gamble on a lighter, more nimble pack started paying more dividends the longer the game went on.
The Titans were able to absorb and repel Parramatta’s early roll-on, and began restricting the visitors’ metres as fatigue set in with their big forwards.
Several times the Titans worked their way into good attacking position, but were unable to land a blow on the scoreboard because of over-excitement and under-execution.
But the Titans’ attacking composure again clicked into gear, and they were finally rewarded when Brian Kelly bagged a good, and well-deserved, try in the 28th minute.
The Titans worked their attack through the left-hand side with some enterprising play, before flinging the ball to the left looking for an opening.
Ryley Jacks created it when his grubber kick deflected off a Parramatta defender’s legs and into the arms of Kelly, who managed to regather, sell a dummy and plunge over the line in almost one motion.
Tyrone Peachey, like he did the previous week against the Dragons, was laser-like with his conversion attempt, drilling the ball perfectly between the posts with a puff of sideline chalk to bring the Titans back to 12-6 down.
But a second-half surge from the Titans failed to materialise as the Eels cruised home, although a late try to Jesse Arthars did add some respectability to the scoreline for the home team.
EELS 36 (Waqa Blake 2, Daniel Alvaro, Manu Ma’u, Shaun Lane, Marata Niukore tries; Mitchell Moses 6 goals) d TITANS 12 (Brian Kelly, Jesse Arthars tries; Tyrone Peachey 2 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium, Robina. Crowd: 10,780