GAME 2: The Titans have won through to finals of the NRL Nines in Perth, remaining unbeaten in their pool matches after a very solid 14-13 win over the Wests Tigers in their Saturday match at HBF Park.
While the score might indicate the game was a close affair, the Titans dominated the game.
The Tigers only got within touching distance when they crossed for a consolation bonus try after Titan Tyrone Peachey was sent to the sin-bin with 19 seconds of the game remaining.
For the game against the Tigers, coach Justin Holbrook brought in Ash Taylor, AJ Brimson, Jaimin Jolliffe and Treymain Spry for their first appearances at the Nines, resting skipper Mitch Rein, Jai Arrow, Bryce Cartwright and first-game try-scorer Greg Leleisiuao in a reshuffled line-up.
While the team performance was again excellent from the Gold Coast, it was the performance of Taylor that would have had Titans fans most excited.
After a season of turmoil on and off the field in 2019, the Ash Taylor of old emerged at HBF Park, with the Titans halfback delivering an individual try, a beautiful cut-out pass on the run to set up a long-distance try for Phil Sami, and a pin-point perfect 40-20 kick in his first taste of on-field action for the year.
Taylor also led the kick chase to trap Tigers fullback Corey Thompson early in the match, and there were three reasons for celebration in that one play for Titans fans.
Firstly, Taylor was the first one there on kick-chase, leading by example.
Secondly, his defensive hit to keep Thompson in-goal was full of intent.
Thirdly, Taylor got to his feet with a smile on his face after getting the result.
They were three promising Taylor has rediscovered his enjoyment of footy again.
While the line-up may have changed against the Tigers, the Titans’ approach didn’t, with the Gold Coast taking up where they had left off in their 27-10 win over the Raiders on Friday.
Jai Whitbread got the scoreboard rolling against the Tigers in just the second minute of the game, barging over the line after some good lead-up work from Brimson, Erin Clark and Peachey.
Sami’s try – after Taylor’s long-ball and excellent work from Peachey to keep the approaching Tigers defenders at bay – will no doubt make the end-of-season highlight reels, and kicked the Titans out to a 10-0 lead in the 6th minute.
Two tries went begging when Peachey was denied over the line by some desperate Tigers defence, and when Anthony Don did just about everything to put Jonus Pearson over in the corner – except throw a legal pass to his fellow winger.
But a minute of magic from Taylor that included his 40-20 kick and hard-earned try, coming after he kept hammering away at the Tigers’ left-edge defence, gave the Titans the breathing room they needed to bank the win.
TITANS 14 (Jai Whitbread, Phillip Sami, Ash Taylor tries; Tyrone Peachey goal) d TIGERS 13 (Luke Garner tries; Jock Madden 2 goals).