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Titans fall short of Eels despite Destiny Brill-iance

The Titans may have not claimed the two points against Parramatta, but should be excited by the performance of talented youngster Destiny Brill in the 24-14 loss.

Falling agonisingly short after the star teenager put the Titans in the box seat at 14-10 just after half-time, the Eels ran in three unanswered tries in the final 25 minutes, with the Gold Coast unable to crawl back the deficit in the topsy-turvy contest.

Match summary

It was the first time the Titans have travelled to CommBank Stadium to face fellow new kids on the block, Parramatta and there was plenty to talk about right from the opening whistle.

Five minutes into the contest and the Eels crossed first after a crafty piece of play saw Maddie Studdon cross for the home side.

The Titans were dealt a blow seven minutes in when Brittany Breayley-Nati was forced from the field for a head injury assessment, although lost nothing with the experienced Georgia Hale coming on and Destiny Brill taking the hooking duties with the skipper off the field.

To rub salt into the wounds after losing the captain, the Eels capitalised on the new combination, shifting the ball nicely from right to left to score their second try on the left edge with Abbi Church crossing.

In the 13th minute, Gold Coast back-rower Tazmin Gray was placed on report and sent to the sin-bin for a crusher tackle after muscling up in defence to keep the Eels down their end of the field.

Although, having to play the following ten minutes with only 12 players didn't worry the Titans one bit, as the flurry of began. Experienced prop Steph Hancock got the party started to celebrate her 40th birthday, barging her way over near the right upright in the 18th minute to get first points on the board.

Steph Hancock gets the short-handed Titans on the board

The sky blue and gold were then bolstered by the return of Breayley-Nati - passing her HIA with 20 minutes to go in the first half, helping setup the next try for one of the Titans' debutants.

18-year-old Hailee-Jay Maunsell had her first appearance made even sweeter when she was on the receiving end of a classy shift from right to left, beginning with Grace Griffin who linked up with fellow halves partner Kimi Breayley-Nati before finding Tiana Raftstrand-Smith who took the ball to the line before delivering a pin-point pass to Maunsell to dive over.

Ahead 10-8, the home side thought they regained the lead when Church crossed for her double in the 28th minute, but was denied upon further inspection by the Bunker for the lead runner obstructing the defensive line. This led to one of the most bizarre passages of play in the game.

After the penalty was awarded to the Gold Coast for the obstruction, the siren mistakenly sounded for half-time and Titans players assumed that was the end of the first half, with Brittany Breayley-Nati taking the tap before kicking it into touch to lead the troops towards the sheds.

However, they were then called back by referee Kasey Badger and told of the error by the time-keeper, to which the Eels got the ball back and two plays later, levelled the score through a penalty kick for goal.

There was another tough call made against the Titans in the 33rd minute, when Maunsell was dubiously denied in the left corner for what was ruled to be a knock-on.

Heading into the sheds at half-time, coach Jamie Feeney was happy with the side's efforts and intensity in the first half, especially with only 12 players, but wanted to see an improvement defensively on the edges in the second 35. 

Straight into the contest after the break, Brill beat five players to cross for the Titans' third four-pointer of the match, breaking the deadlock to lead 14-10.

Destiny Brill fires her way through the Eels line

In the 45th minute, the Gold Coast scrambled to stop Eels debutant Emily Curtain from crossing on the right edge, although were unsuccessful, to lock the game up once again at 14-14.

With both sides fighting hard for the two points, Studdon found some space to put Botille Vette-Welsh over with 17 minutes remaining, setting up a grandstand finish for the Titans to get their second win of the season against newcomers Parramatta.

More points came the home side's way with Christian Pio running a well-timed line to cross untouched, pushing the margin out to 10 points.

That's where the score remained at the full-time siren, with the Eels taking home the two points in the Round 3 contest.

The Titans remain fourth on the ladder as they prepare to run out at Cbus Super Stadium for the first time next Saturday against the Brisbane Broncos. 

Match highlights: Titans NRLW v Eels

Key talking points

  • Destiny Brill was the standout for the Titans in the middle third. The 18-year-old scored a try, made one line-break, had 10 tackle busts, ran for 103 metres – 34 post-contact and made 35 tackles. A very busy afternoon in her 63 minutes!
  • Age is just a number for Steph Hancock. Celebrating her 40th birthday on Wednesday, she was also among the Titans' best. Scoring the first four-pointer, she also ran for 76 metres over only six runs and made 23 tackles.
  • It was another good performance from the captain, even though she was off the field for a HIA for 15 minutes. The No. 9 topped the tackle count again with 41 tackles.
  • Errors were the Achilles heel for the Titans; only completing at 58 percent, making 18 errors.
  • Tazmin Gray will be sweating on the match review committee's findings tomorrow after being cited for a crusher tackle. The experienced back-rower will be eager to run out onto Cbus Super Stadium for the first time to take on her former club Brisbane next Saturday.

Injury / judiciary concerns

  • Brittany Breayley-Nati left the field in the eighth minute for a head injury assessment but was cleared and returned to the field 15 minutes later.
  • Tazmin Gray was placed on report in the 14th minute for a crusher tackle.
Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.