Titans upset Souths in scrap-fest
In a match where there were more errors and penalties than points, an understrength Titans outfit managed to upset South Sydney 14-10 in front of a crowd of 10,925 at ANZ Stadium on Monday night.
In all there were 25 penalties with Souths getting a 14-11 advantage and 25 errors, with the Rabbitohs committing 17 to Gold Coast's eight, compared to 24 points scored by both teams combined.
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The Titans never led until a 67th-minute try to Kevin Gordon, which proved to be the last points of the game, but Souths will rue the avalanche of ball they coughed up throughout the contest.
Both sides had to deal with their share of injuries as well, with George Burgess – in his return from an ankle injury – leaving the field just after half time after a recurrence of the problem. Kyle Turner also spent time off the field with an ankle issue and Adam Reynolds spent most of the second half hobbling after having his leg twisted awkwardly in a tackle late in the first half.
For the visitors, David Mead finished the game at fullback after captain and try-scorer William Zillman was concussed. Mead however proved an asset with some great late defensive plays saving his side from a late loss.
A scrappy first half punctuated by half a dozen errors from each side and just as many penalties conceded by each team saw Souths head to the break up 8-4 despite each side scoring one try.
The recalled Lote Tuqiri looked a man on a mission with an early line break from a kick return as he looked to prove a point after having spent a fair bit of time in NSW Cup this season but it was another recalled man who made the early running.
Luke Keary was playing his first NRL game of 2014 after rupturing a pectoral muscle in the pre-season Auckland Nines tournament and his seventh-minute bomb came down to fullback Nathan Merrit, who offloaded back infield. The loose ball scooted past several players before Keary, backing up, picked it up on the burst and with no-one in front of him raced 15 metres to the try-line.
One of the home side's many first half errors almost led to an equaliser to Titans lock Paul Carter, hitting a Mortimer short ball at pace, but he was held up.
A series of errors against Souths handed the Titans further opportunities but they looked to lack cohesion and it was a penalty against the Titans that led to the next points when Reynolds took two points just before the half hour mark.
Souths continued to hand the visitors chances and a Dylan Walker drop early in the set followed by a penalty gave the Titans a full set at the Rabbitohs' line.
With Albert Kelly fresh on the field after being named on the interchange bench in his comeback from a calf injury, the Kelly-Mortimer halves combinations paid dividends inside their first five minutes as a combination when Mortimer fed it to Kelly whose switch back inside saw winger David Mead burst over almost untouched out wide.
Mortimer's kick faded left and despite some last-play razzle-dazzle from the home side after the half time siren that almost saw Kyle Turner score, the score-line remained 8-4 at the break.
The errors and penalties continued after the break and it was a quick brace in the visitors' favour that put them in position for a jagged Zillman run to wrong-foot Dylan Walker to get his side level at 8-all after 47 minutes.
After some missed opportunities to both sides a quick run of three penalties in three minutes against the Titans – who were forced to defend five sets in a row – almost saw Sutton score but he was ruled to have been held up.
Despite all the defending they'd just done the Titans marched downfield and when Alex Johnston spilled a bomb, some quick hands form the Titans saw Gordon cross in the corner and convert his own try from touch to earn the 14-10 advantage they'd cling on to frantically until full time.
Gold Coast Titans 14 (David Mead, William Zillman, Kevin Gordon tries; Kevin Gordon 1/1, Daniel Mortimer 0/2) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 10 (Luke Keary try; Adam Reynolds 3/3 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 10,925.