Titans turn attention to Cowboys
The sharp sting left by Matt Moylan's match-winning field goal was still being felt but in the immediate aftermath of their 15-14 loss on Saturday night Titans players vowed to take the fight for a place in the finals all the way to Townsville next Saturday night.
Showing the type of bravery and commitment that has defined their season to date the Titans fought back from a 14-0 half-time deficit against Penrith to level the scores at 14-all with five minutes left to play.
But an impetuous play at the end of the next set and a missed tackle on Panthers centre Tyrone Peachey put Moylan into position to secure Penrith's finals passage and leave the Titans grimly hanging onto the eighth spot.
Either the Warriors or Wests Tigers will move to within a point of the Titans when they meet at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday and give Gold Coast the simple equation of needing to knock off the defending premiers to qualify for finals football for the first time since 2010.
Although they have just one win from their past six trips to Townsville the Titans can take some comfort from their overall record of eight wins from 16 games against the Cowboys, with coach Neil Henry promising a final round flourish.
"It still comes down to a win and that's our challenge and the boys have briefly addressed it straight after the game," Henry said.
"We've got to get up there and get a win.
"It's not over. Destiny is in our own hands. We go up to Cowboys and have a crack up there and can win a game of footy.
"We've got everything to play for. We're not going up there to make up the numbers, we're going up there to win a game of footy and we have to do that.
"Time will tell if we're good enough to do it but I'll tell you the boys will go up there and play some footy and certainly be able to test them.
"If that's good enough to take two points then we're in the finals and we kick on from there.
"It's all ahead of us. We've got a week of training and something really to motivate us to get up there and get the job done.
"That's what's ahead of us. We'll watch the Wests Tigers-Warriors game with interest but we needed a result today to take everything out of the equation."
In what was his farewell game on the Gold Coast in his 119th match for the club Nathan Friend ducked under the banner as he ran onto the field with his two boys and then had to wait until the 53rd minute before his first involvement in the game.
To see a finals spot snatched in the dying stages has the potential to take a heavy mental toll on players who have been starved of recent success but Friend said the resilience they had displayed would be on show for at least one more week.
"It's not the first one we've lost by one point this season," said Friend after his 240th NRL game.
"What we've done so far this year has instilled a lot of confidence within the group and it will be no different.
"We know what's riding on it next week especially. Heading to North Queensland, there's probably no tougher road trip than up there but I know I've got the troops that are more than capable to cause an upset up there for sure."
The last time the Titans tasted success in Townsville was in Round 1, 2012 where they stunned the locals by keeping the home side scoreless in an 18-0 victory.
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