Titans v Eels: Five key points
Konrad Hurrell starts winning over the Titans faithful, the brave Eels finally lose their battle, Peats pays dividends for Titans and Bevan French further stamps his credentials as a try-scoring phenomenon.
Konrad kicks off in style
He may have copped a knock that took the wind out of his sails in the opening minutes but it took just five minutes for Konrad Hurrell to show to Titans fans what a valuable addition he will be to the team. Undefeated at the venue in four previous visits as a Warrior, Hurrell scored his sixth try at Cbus Super Stadium and brought the crowd of more than 15,000 to their feet with each charge into the Eels defence.
They roared when he made a break downfield and charged headlong into Eels five-eighth Clint Gutherson and over the course of 80 minutes it showed how big a role he will play in converting the strong Pacific Island population of south-east Queensland into Gold Coast Titans fans.
Eels spirit finally breaks
The management can be pilloried for the mess that they have created but no true rugby league fan can accuse the Eels coaching staff and playing group of giving anything than their absolute best in 2016.
Having had 12 competition points deducted for their salary cap indiscretions Saturday's clash with the Titans represented the last mathematical hope of a finals berth, hopes that were crushed when Nene Macdonald scored for the home side 14 minutes from full-time.
The heads dropped immediately behind the goal-line and while coach Brad Arthur and captain Tim Mannah were adamant the fight they have displayed all year will continue until Round 26, Round 20 will sit as the mark when they were finally put out of their misery.
Peats pick-up paying major dividends
When Nathan Friend injured his hamstring three minutes after coming onto the field the value of Gold Coast's acquisition of Nathan Peats mid-season became even more significant.
The sacrificial lamb of the Eels' salary cap crisis, Peats is now the only fit hooker at the club with more than 25 first grade games to his name and has brought a steel and directness to the Titans that has helped them to start games so effectively in recent weeks.
He topped the Titans' tackle count with 37 on Saturday evening and is now ironically on course to play finals football as the team he started the season with bows out.
Bevan French is a freak
Finding positives in Parramatta's season from hell is akin to finding your keys when you're in a hurry but the emergence of Bevan French is something Eels fans will be able to look back on fondly in years to come.
When he set the Auckland Nines alight in February coach Brad Arthur suggested that an NRL call-up was unlikely to come in 2016 but a mounting injury toll handed the speedster an opportunity in Round 12 and he's since made the right wing position his own.
When makeshift five-eighth Clint Gutherson grubbered into the in-goal midway through the second half the ball looked as though it would bounce well over the dead-ball line before French swooped with blistering speed to score his 10th try in just his seventh game, drawing level with Semi Radradra as the club's leading try-scorer.
"We've got probably three quarters of the salary cap sitting on the sideline but that gives someone else an opportunity. If we didn't get a few injuries maybe Bevan wouldn't have got his opportunity this year," Arthur said.
"It's part of Bevan's development for next year. Last week he did some good things in attack but defensively he got taught a few lessons. That was his focus tonight and I thought he improved it."
Titans' testing fortnight ahead
Needing to win at least three of their remaining six games to qualify for the finals for the first time since 2010, the Titans face a true test of their credentials in the coming fortnight.
With home games against the Sharks in the Warriors in the space of seven days the Titans have the opportunity to not only separate themselves from the chasing pack but push for a home final by picking up at least one of those games.
"They're all vital games. We've got a bit of a longer turnaround into the Monday night game but a real good challenge against a team flying at the top of the competition and then the Warriors," Titans coach Neil Henry said.
"We don't really need to watch the table, we need to concentrate on what we can do against our opposition and our next challenge will be a tough one against the Sharks.
"We are in contention, it's up to us now to take that opportunity each week to stay where we are."