There are two swords on the Gold Coast Titans’ logo, and the Titans fell on both of them in their 46-6 defeat to the Parramatta Eels, with simple errors costing the home team any chance of holding last year’s finalists at bay at Cbus Super Stadium.
The Titans were brave and courageous, and defensively highly impressive in an intense first 20 minutes of the second half, when the repelled wave after wave of attack from the Eels who spent so long in the Gold Coast’s 30m zone they could have been charged rates.
The reason for Parramatta’s territorial advantage was a glut of simple handling errors from the Titans, who continually turned the ball over to give the Eels more and more chances.
As brave and committed as they were, ultimately the Titans just ran out of gas from having to do so much tackling.
When the Eels finally broke through in the 57th minute through Dylan Brown, the dam wall burst, and a respectable 14-6 halftime scoreline blew out as the ruthless Eels ripped the shattered Titans to shreds.
Jai Arrow was enormous for the Titans, who were battered on the injury front, losing skipper Kevin Proctor (hamstring) before kick-off, winger Dale Copley (ribs) after 16 minutes, and five-eighth Tyrone Roberts for a large chunk of the game with an ankle injury.
Despite the lessons learned last weekend in Canberra, the Titans were again slow out of the blocks against the Eels, falling behind 12-0 after just nine minutes.
With Proctor out, Tyrone Peachey was elevated into the starting team on the edge, and the tough Jaimin Jolliffe earned his second NRL appearance off the bench.
The late disruption clearly affected the Titans’ concentration, with a long-range try to Mitchell Moses in the sixth minute, and another from close range to Reed Mahoney three minutes later having the Titans under the pump.
But unlike last week, the Titans did not wait until halftime to recalibrate, slowly working their way into the contest and going toe-to-toe with Parramatta’s giant pack.
Arrow in particular was inspirational with some brutal hits in defence, trying to lift his troops after inheriting the captaincy from Proctor.
It had the desired effect, with the Titans pegging one back in the 16th minute when Dale Copley scored a spectacular in the left corner.
Ash Taylor gave a taste of his vintage best in the lead-up, putting up a bomb which Anthony Don managed to tap back to his support players.
The ball was fed to Taylor, who didn’t waste a second bit of the cherry, accelerating through the Eels’ defensive line on an arcing 20-metre run, before firing a bullet of a pass to Copley on the wing.
Copley still had work to do, but changed his angle back against the grain to score.
It would be nice to say Copley score untouched, but that was far from the case – Eels lock Nathan Brown arrived late with a set of knees that saw him placed on report, Copley leave the field injured, and Taylor kick the ensuing penalty from in front to get the Titans up and running at 12-6.
The Titans created a few more opportunities, but were unable to finishing things off.
Bryce Cartwright went close in the right corner, and Jolliffe was denied close to the posts by an obstruction call, but both times the points went begging.
EELS 46 (Dylan Brown 2, Mitchell Moses, Reed Mahoney, Kane Evans, Maika Sivo, Peni Terepo tries; Moses 9 goals) d TITANS 6 (Dale Copley try; Ash Taylor goal) at Cbus Super Stadium.