Titans beat Rabbitohs in golden point
Ashley Taylor has catapulted the Titans into the Telstra Premiership top eight with an 87th minute field goal that not only further highlighted his star quality but proved to his teammates that they can win under pressure.
The Titans were cruising when Taylor and Tyrone Roberts had helped to engineer an 18-0 lead through 45 minutes and they looked to have wrapped it up when Josh Hoffman scored two minutes from full-time but the Rabbitohs had one more punch to throw when Roberts' sideline conversion swung left of the posts.
A short kick-off went into touch off Titan Nathan Davis and after a frantic set of tackles hooker Cameron McInnes scampered over wide out, Adam Reynolds calmly slotting the conversion to level things up at 28-all at full-time.
From there the two teams traded field goal attempts with the most dramatic moment coming when a wobbly Reynolds match-winner in the final minute of the first period of extra time was overturned due to interference from prop Nathan Brown on Titans' opposite Ryan James.
An error from Rabbitohs prop Thomas Burgess gave Titans' field position in the opening minutes of the second period of golden point and it was 20-year-old Taylor who stepped up to the mark under intense pressure from Jason Clark to earn his team an invaluable win so far from home.
Played with an intensity of two teams desperate to maintain touch with the top eight the Rabbitohs monstered the Titans in defence throughout the first half but their execution in attack let them down at crucial times.
The Titans' 12-0 lead at half-time was the first time they had kept a side scoreless through 40 minutes since Round 19, 2014 and the third time the Rabbitohs had been kept scoreless in the opening term this season.
The Rabbitohs again started the second half with plenty of vigour in defence but it was a 40/20 kick from that man Taylor five minutes into the second half that not only got his team out of trouble but put them in position to go further in front courtesy of a Tyrone Roberts show-and-go and try under the posts.
It took a scything run from Cody Walker on a kick return to finally spark the Rabbitohs in attack with Bryson Goodwin cutting back on a short pass from Luke Keary close to the line to score under the posts in the 49th minute.
Attempting to complete the biggest comeback of the season, a 12-point deficit became eight when the Rabbitohs went back-to-back through Dane Nielsen in the 53rd minute but an error from Sam Burgess early in the ensuing tackle count invited the Titans to attack and Ryan James crashed over for his second try three tackles later.
A second piece of individual brilliance from Walker where he pounced on a loose ball and breezed past three Titans defenders to score from 20 metres out again bridged the gap and when debutant Siosifa Talakai crossed from a Greg Inglis pass with his first touch in first grade the deficit was just two points 15 minutes from full-time.
Hoffman's try from a Taylor cross-field kick put the Titans out to 28-22 two minutes from full-time but McInnes's four-pointer in the final moment ensured there was more high drama to come.
The opening of the match was very much an arm-wrestle with high completion rates before James powered his way over in the 13th minute.
Despite the attention of five Rabbitohs defenders and the right-hand upright James, who put in a magnificent all-round performance, twisted and turned until his right arm was free enough to plant the ball on the stripe and give the Titans the early advantage.
While the Rabbitohs continued to assert themselves defensively in the first 40 minutes their 62 per cent completion rate and errors in key areas of the field prevented them from building any type of pressure.
They were building again two minutes prior to the break before an Inglis mistake gifted the Titans possession and Agnatius Paasi sent Ashley Taylor on a 60-metre run to the try-line untouched.
Gold Coast Titans 29 (Ryan James 2, Ashley Taylor, Tyrone Roberts, Josh Hoffman tries; Roberts 3, Taylor goals, Taylor field goal) def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 (Bryson Goodwin, Dane Nielsen, Cody Walker, Siosifa Talakai, Cameron McInnes tries; Adam Reynolds 4 goals) at nib Stadium, Perth. Crowd: 13,142. Half-time: Titans 12-0.