Titans defy injuries to stun the Storm

Titans defy injuries to stun the Storm

They lost three players to injury and trailed the competition leaders by eight points with 10 minutes to play but the Titans have recorded one of the most extraordinary wins in the club's history, coming back to beat Melbourne 38-36 at Suncorp Stadium.

With Jarryd Hayne (leg), Ryan Simpkins (knee) and Dan Sarginson (arm) all off the field with 13 minutes left to play the Storm applied the blowtorch in a 74-point thriller to fight back from a 28-18 deficit to lead 36-28.

But a try to Tyrone Roberts and a hail mary courtesy of a Kane Elgey cross-field kick and Anthony Don tap-back allowed Konrad Hurrell to charge onto the loose ball, take it on the full and barge through an attempted tackle by Cheyse Blair to put the Titans ahead with a minute still to play.

‌In the first match of the double-header the Titans only went three minutes before losing Ryan Simpkins for the game with a knee injury and when Dan Sarginson (suspected broken arm) and Jarryd Hayne (leg) also left the field in the second half the underdogs were left with just 14 fit players at their disposal. 

Trailing 18-6 after 28 minutes the Titans scored the final two tries of the first half and then regained the lead five minutes into the second half when Hurrell somehow rescued a Nathan Peats grubber centimetres inside the dead-ball line.

Showing tremendous resilience again and a propensity to pile on the points an Ash Taylor cross-field kick landed just inside the Storm's in-goal with Don's contest for the ball falling back into the arms of a waiting Chris McQueen who scored the easiest try of his career in his 150th appearance for a 28-18 lead 25 minutes from full-time.

If they could have taken a leaf out of Melbourne's book the Titans would have used a 10-point advantage to close the game out but errors and penalties in their own half gave the Storm enough shots at them to land a couple of critical blows.

A basic shift to the right gave Will Chambers the space to easily get on the outside of Hayne and slice across in the 64th minute and when Hayne suffered a leg injury the Storm hammered the Titans' left edge until Suliasi Vunivalu climbed to catch a Cronk bomb and offload to Joe Stimson for his first try in the NRL, Smith's conversion putting the Storm ahead 30-28 12 minutes from full-time.

The Storm scored again through Cheyse Blair and when Smith landed a sideline conversion from the left for an eight-point lead the result looked sealed, but a further try to Roberts and Hurrell's miracle enabled the Titans to score their third win on the trot and claim both last year's grand finalists as scalps in the space of three weeks.

The Titans were dealt a blow three minutes into the game when in his 50th game Ryan Simpkins left the field with what appeared to be a serious knee injury but were the first to score when captain Ryan James crashed over in the 16th minute.

After a tense opening the deadlock was finally broken when an Ash Taylor grubber kick ricocheted off the foot of Cameron Smith into the arms of Nathan Peats and after James was ruled onside the Titans skipper was awarded the opening try of the night.

But after going set for set with the competition leaders the Titans were picked apart expertly by the Storm's old firm with Cameron Smith exposing some flimsy Titans defence around the ruck and piling on 18 points in the space of nine minutes.

A sublime pass from Cameron Munster put Tohu Harris through a gap and the returning Kiwi back-rower sent Slater over, and three minutes later Smith's inside ball to Slater again opened the Titans up, the 'big three' giving Storm fans another moment to savour when Slater found Cronk in support to score the first of his two tries.

The second came courtesy of another pass from Munster, who this time found Tim Glasby on his inside with few Titans defenders in the picture, Cronk pushing through to score the 91st try of his career and open up an 18-6 advantage.

Cronk looked to have scored a first-half hat-trick when he followed through on a Slater kick in the closing seconds but after being sent to the Bunker as a try replays showed he had jumped the gun by fraction of a second.

In danger of losing touch despite 60 per cent of possession the Titans refused to be resigned to their fate and fought back first through a try to Leivaha Pulu under the posts from close range and then Jarryd Hayne chimed in with a rare first-half touch to provide the final pass for Anthony Don's try in the 37th minute, Kane Elgey's missed conversion attempt from the sideline the difference between the two sides at the break.

Gold Coast Titans 38 (Konrad Hurrell 2, Ryan James, Leivaha Pulu, Anthony Don, Chris McQueen, Tyrone Roberts tries; Kane Elgey 5 goals) def. Melbourne Storm 36 (Cooper Cronk 2, Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Joe Stimson, Cheyse Blair tries; Cameron Smith 6 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Half-time: Storm 18-16.