Gold Coast star David Fifita faces an anxious wait to learn if he will be charged by the NRL match review committee after being forced to watch from the sin bin as the Titans hung on to beat West Tigers 36-28 at Campbelltown Stadium.
Fifita combined with AJ Brimson and Tanah Boyd to produce a try-saving tackle that sent Tigers winger David Nofolaluma crashing into the fence in the final minutes but then collared Adam Doueihi high as he appeared set to score and was sent to the sin bin.
With Gold Coast down to 12 men, Doueihi grabbed a late try but there wasn’t enough time left on the clock for the Tigers to snatch an unlikely victory and the Titans ended a three-match losing streak to climb into seventh position.
However, Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook is hoping Fifita and lock Tyrone Peachey, who was placed on report for a shoulder charge, avoid suspension for next Sunday’s match against the unbeaten Penrith Panthers.
“I just honestly thought it was a reflex action and he got 10 in the bin," Holbrook said of Fifita's tackle on Doueihi. "It didn’t hurt him at all, which is good because you don’t want to see that, so I think he should be fine.“
Match: Wests Tigers v Titans
Round 9 -
Venue: Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Sydney
Just moments before being given his marching orders, Fifita had led a desperate scramble to stop Nofoaluma from scoring his third try as the Tigers mounted a late comeback before slumping to their seventh loss of the season.
“That was a big play. We were sort of scrambling and [centre] Brian Kelly was a little bit busted so for the others to cover for him like that was a great sign and we needed that," Holbrook said.
"The main thing for us after three losses is that we won. It was a pressure game for us tonight.
"I told the boys that and for me the players' effort is an indicator that it was worrying them. That effort is exactly what we need and we need more of that.
“Good sides just keep the foot on the throat and probably go on to win 42-12. We are just fumbling our way to the finish line.
When we play well we are pretty good but we have got to play well for 80 minutes against Penrith because they do."
The Tigers had two second-half tries disallowed and there were question marks over at least two tries awarded to the Titans but few would disagree that the Gold Coast were the better team for most of the match.
Peachey scores from the kick off
“We got the two points and we are back in the winner’s circle so we are very happy about that but we know we have got a lot to work to do," winger Anthony Don said.
“I felt comfortable for most of the game. We just had to hold on and we managed to do that in the end."
The Titans scored three tries in three consecutive sets to storm to an 18-0 lead after just 13 minutes to stun the 8411-strong Campbelltown Stadium crowd, who had turned out to honour the late, great Tom Raudonikis.
Winger Phillip Sami opened the scoring in the ninth minute when he pounced on a perfectly executed Boyd grubber behind the Tigers defensive line.
For the second time this season, the Titans went coast to coast from the re-start after Don fielded the kick off and passed in his in-goal to prop Jarrod Wallace, who sent Brimson racing into the clear before Peachey out-sprinted Luke Brooks to score.
Joseph Leilua on the charge off the scrum
“It is pretty good when we have got David Fifita and Brian Kelly and AJ Brimson ... they are some of the best attacking players in the comp so when they are on and we are flying through the middle of the ruck we can put on points," Don said.
Kelly then crossed for Gold Coast’s third try in five minutes after Wallace off-loaded in the middle of the field and Fifita found himself racing down the touchline before passing to the former Manly centre.
Joey Leilua crashed over for the Tigers in the 18th minute and rookie hooker Jake Simpkin scored his first NRL try eight minutes later to reduce the deficit for Wests Tigers to 18-12.
However, a Beau Fermor try after Don out-leapt Leilua and Zac Cini to a Jamal Fogarty bomb ensured the visitors went to halftime with a comfortable lead.
It was the sixth time this season Gold Coast had scored 22 or more points in the first half and when Sami finished a shift from sideline to sideline to score in the 50th minute, after Fogarty had fielded a Luke Brooks grubber to send Don racing into the clear, the Titans led 30-12.