Roberts hat-trick blows Eels away
A hat-trick from Titans flyer James Roberts – including two tries from intercepts – allowed Gold Coast to upset a scrappy Eels outfit 38-16 in front of 11,136 disappointed fans at Pirtek Stadium.
Five key points from Eels v Titans
WATCH: Eels v Titans highlights
WATCH: Roberts goes long range to complete his hat-trick
WATCH: Parramatta post-match press conference
WATCH: Gold Coast post-match press conference
The Eels were blown away in a 26-0 second half after taking a slender advantage to the break. The loss was the Eels' first at Pirtek since going down to Souths in July last year, and their sixth consecutive 13-plus margin in six games this year, with the Eels on the wrong side of four of those.
It was also the second week running they threw away a half-time advantage in a scoreless second half. They are joined on four competition points now by the Titans, who turned in their most impressive performance of 2015.
The Gold Coast's goal-line defence will be the most pleasing aspect of the win for coach Neil Henry, defusing several attacking Eels raids, but it will be speedster Roberts grabbing the headlines after notching three tries in a fine all-round game in which he racked up more than 200 metres and laid on a try for his winger David Mead.
After stealing a win against the Sharks a fortnight ago with a long-range intercept, Roberts was at it again with a first half effort from a loose Anthony Watmough pass.
But it was his length-of-the-field effort in the 58th minute from a Nathan Peats floating pass that had seemed destined to put the Eels in front – and instead resulted in a 24-16 advantage to the Titans – that broke the game open and turned the momentum to the away team.
From there the game became a procession as the ragged Eels fell to pieces, coming up with unforced errors and falling off tackles as the game slipped away.
The Eels had been somewhat lucky to be up 16-12 at half-time after completing at 65 per cent for the half – up from 50 per cent at the half-hour mark, having completed just seven of their first 14 sets, before six straight completions righted the ship.
They struggled badly to get into attacking positions – their first set inside Titans territory came 12 minutes in, thanks to a Kierran Moseley forward pass, and only after Dave Taylor had breezed his sizeable frame through an even more sizable gap in the Eels defence 20 metres out to hand the visitors an early 6-0 advantage.
The Gold Coast failed to capitalise on that and several more chances through a series of errors before Parramatta hit back. With Joe Paulo introduced off the bench, a deft and unexpected offload gave fellow bench-man Danny Wicks the chance to plant down for his first four-pointer since 2009 and level the scores after a quarter of the game.
Despite suggestions from his coach during the week that he just relax and play his role, veteran forward Anthony Wamtough handed professional intercept-grabber James Roberts a free run to the line with a very loose pass to hand the advantage straight back.
Some more Paulo magic put Corey Norman into space to allow Reece Robinson to level the scores before Chris Sandow, who had looked dangerous every time he ran the ball, handed a regulation short ball to Wil Hopoate who shrugged through some woeful Titans defence to earn his side an unlikely four-point half-time advantage.
From there though it was all one-way traffic as two quick tries from Roberts were followed by three more from Will Zillman, David Mead and Anthony Don in the 80th minute to complete an embarrassing scoreline for Brad Arthur's men.
Gold Coast Titans 38 (Roberts 3, Taylor, Zillman, Mead tries; Sezer) defeated Parramatta Eels 16 (Wicks, Robinson, Hopoate tries, Sandow 2 goals) at Pirtek Stadium. Crowd: 11,136. Half-time: Eels 16-12. On report: Ryan James.