Gold Coast Titans fans were treated to an inspiring second half comeback, but sadly it just wasn't enough to overcome a strong opening 40 minutes by the Parramatta Eels at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday night.
Down 20-0 at the break, flying Phil Sami began the fight back with a classy four-pointer, firing up the attacking flare of the Titans, where the home side put on another three tries to try and chase down the red-hot Eels.
Getting within a converted try, the Titans fell just short of the two points, but showed plenty of positives to take into next week's clash against Manly.
Match: Titans v Eels
Round 5 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Despite the greasy conditions, it was a hard and fast start for both teams - as expected from the two quality outfits.
The Titans showed impressive, sturdy defence in the opening stages of the match, particularly from halfback Toby Sexton who skilfully defused a Mitchell Moses grubber kick into the in-goal, running his way out to safety in the 15th minute.
A number of tough carries helped the Titans get a fresh set of six in good-ball and Sexton was involved again, linking up with halves partner AJ Brimson with a well-timed dribble into the in-goal, although an ugly bounce prevented the Gold Coast five-eighth from getting the ball down cleanly.
The Eels were able to capitalise on the seven-tackle restart, going down the other end of the field to score first points through fullback Clint Gutherson.
More points came in the way of the Titans opposition in the 25th minute when a crafty right hand shift allowed for winger Bailey Simonsson to score his first four-pointer of the night in the right hand corner.
Parramatta were in for their third try in fortuitous circumstances when a Moses cross-field kick into the in-goal was juggled by Jarrod Wallace, subsequently losing possession for Gutherson to take advantage of being Johnny-on-the-spot to lead 14-0.
In the final minutes of the first half, Gold Coast fought tooth and nail to cross the white stripe with multiple attacking raids.
Brimson got within inches of the try line and a few plays later, David Fifita attempted to expose Parramatta's left edge by tipping on to Thompson, but to no avail, leaving the score at 14-0 at the break.
Seven minutes into the second half, Ryan Matterson got his first points for the Eels on the end of a well-timed cut-out pass from five-eighth Dylan Brown, pushing the score out to 20-0... but then cue the comeback.
Phillip Sami opens the Titans scoring
Attacking Parramatta's line, Cbus Super Stadium erupted in the 51st minute when Brimson had the ball on a string, dribbling it in for Phil Sami to dive on the ball and score first points for the home side.
There were more points for the Titans eight minutes later when dummy-half Erin Clark chased a fantastic kick, which was let go, cleaning up the scraps with his second four-pointer of the year.
Activating beast mode
In the 68th minute, fans were treated to Fifita's ferocious best... scooping up the ball 40 metres out and destroying anything in his path... going the distance to score a try to watch back and savour for days to come. Sexton's on target kick from out wide put the game within reach, only four points behind.
The Eels hit back through Brown, to put the margin back out to ten points, but with five minutes remaining; fan favourite Greg Marzhew - against his former club - ran over four defenders to plant the footy over the white stripe, setting up a grandstand finish in the final moments of the match with the deficit only a converted try.
Marzhew monsters his way over
Sadly, the clock beat the Gold Coast in the end, going down 26-20.