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Key three: Kini, Brimson shine but Eels offloads prove the difference

It wasn't the Gold Coast's day in Ipswich as the Eels defeated the Titans 26-16 in the club's major trial on Sunday afternoon.

In a tale of two halves, the Titans started slowly with Parramatta leading 20-4 at the break, before the home side kicked into gear to win the second stanza with three tries to one in the final 40 minutes - goal-kicking proving to be an achilles heel that could've seen the Coast finish within two points of the visitors.

Despite being on the wrong end of the scoreline, Beau Fermor made his triumphant return from a 371 day wait after rupturing his ACL on the eve of Round 1, 2023; whilst AJ Brimson starred in his new centre role.

Here are the key talking points from the major trial against the Eels:

Brimson shows potential in first centre outing

AJ Brimson made his outside backs debut in style with a scintillating runaway try to put the Titans back in the contest just after half-time, showing is expected to be a livewire in the No. 4 jersey come the season proper.

He almost scored his first four-pointer as a centre late in the first half, but was denied by millimetres after showing blistering speed and beating a number of Eels defenders.

Brimson runs the length

His time in the second stanza cut short by a failed HIA, the 25-year-old finished with 148 running metres, a line break and a tackle break; alongside a great contribution in defence with eight tackles at 100 percent efficiency.

Despite missing the final quarter of the game, the excitement machine is expected to be right to go for Round 1 and his 100 games celebrations in a fortnight when the Titans face the Dragons at Cbus Super Stadium.

Parramatta offloads prove costly

The Eels brought their renowned offloading prowess to North Ipswich Reserve with enforcers Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Junior Paulo leading the way with second phase play in the opening stanza.

The visitors led the count 8-1 at the break with the first try the courtesy of Bryce Cartwright finding Will Penisini after contact; before the two prop forwards combined for the Eels’ third of the afternoon.

Trial 2 highlights: Titans v Eels

It was a pivotal point in Parramatta's dominance in the opening half and they continued in the second 40 with a further 10 moments of second phase, although the Gold Coast were able to contain their effectiveness in the second half only conceding the one try in the 46th minute.

It will be an area of improvement Des Hasler will be honing in in the final fortnight before the season opener; particularly given the destructiveness of the offload effectiveness inflicted by Parramatta with the final count being 18-4 in their favour.

Kini shows Hasler he's the No. 1 man for opener

Keano Kini has all but cemented the fullback jersey for the Titans season opener after impressing against the Eels.

Going up against class No. 1 Clint Gutherson in the clash, the 19-year-old didn't disappoint, topping the running metres for the Titans with 171 including 41 of those post-contact; whilst also breaking six tackles and recording a linebreak.

Injured fullback Jayden Campbell - who is expected to return after Round 1 - endorsed Kini's selection during Fox League's coverage of the clash.

"K's awesome... he's been training really hard and works really hard at his game," he said.

"I'm really happy for him... he's a freak."

Jaylan De Groot also proved to Hasler he could be an option with a tidy finish to the game, helping keep the second half score to only one try conceded after putting his body on the line out the back late in the game.

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.