Shattered Gold Coast players rallied around centre Patrick Herbert after he passed the ball over the sideline as the Titans appeared set to snatch a last gasp win against Sydney Roosters in Saturday night’s elimination final at Townsville’s QCB Stadium.
The Titans’ season ended with a dramatic 25-24 loss to the fifth-placed Roosters but they had a chance to score on the last tackle of the game after shifting the ball wide to Herbert, who had David Fifita and Corey Thompson on his outside.
However, Herbert ignored the desperate calls of Fifita and ran himself before attempting a flick pass on the tryline that went behind Thompson and rolled into touch as the full-time siren sounded.
“If we passed the ball at the end I am sitting here saying that was the best win we have ever had as a club, but it wasn’t to be,” Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook said.
“We have got to suck it up and it is going to hurt for a long time, but we will come back next year.”
Match Highlights: Roosters v Titans
Holbrook was devastated as he believed the Titans should have beaten the Roosters to set up a date with Manly next weekend, but he was also disappointed that his players didn’t have the composure to ice the game.
Thompson immediately vented his frustration at Herbert, and Fifita was also clearly unimpressed that he hadn’t passed the ball, but Holbrook said the former Dragons and Warriors centre would bounce back.
“He has taken it pretty hard, but he will be alright,” Holbrook said of Herbert.
The Titans suffered a 15-14 loss to Newcastle just two weeks ago that forced them to rely on Canberra and Cronulla losing their last round matches and then having to beat the Warriors to scrape into eighth-place.
“I came here tonight expecting we would win,” Holbrook said. “I knew we had to play well but we were here to win the game. It is hard to take at the minute.
“I am proud of the players for fighting all the way but we have been doing a lot of learning as the year has gone on and I thought we would have learned enough to take better options in certain circumstances and we didn’t tonight. It cost us the game.
“I am just shattered. It was there to be won and we could have been sitting here so happy but we’re not. We are out.
“It is a massive learning curve and there is no harder learning curve than ending your season by a point. It is a big driving force for next year and we have got to get better. We have got to win those games.”
Gold Coast overcame the 10th minute sinbinning of five-eighth Tyrone Peachey and the loss of centre Brian Kelly with a broken nose before half-time to trail 12-6 at the interval but conceded another try soon after the re-start.
Fifita also had a first half try disallowed due to an obstruction by Herbert.
However, tries to star lock Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Kelly, who returned in the second half to be one of the Gold Coast’s best, levelled the scores at 18-18 before the Roosters again hit back through veteran centre Josh Morris.
A 70th minute Jarrod Wallace try again drew the scores level at 24-24 before Roosters coach Trent Robinson sent on teenage halfback Sam Walker to kick a late field goal and the Titans blew their chance to snatch victory.
Fermor gets it down just before the break
“I am really proud of the boys,” Holbrook said. “We kept coming back, we chased them all game but it is just heart breaking. The whole city of the Gold Coast really got behind us all week and we’d love to be playing next week.”
The match may have been the last in Titans colours for Peachey and hooker Mitch Rein, who are off contract and unsure if they will be re-signed, while no announcement has yet been made on the future of out-of-favour playmaker Ash Taylor.