Gold Coast Titans have returned to the equal top of the National Rugby League ladder after a gritty 22 points to 6 win over the Wests Tigers in front of 8,929 fans at Leichhardt Oval.
Following the three ANZAC Day clashes being played in larger arenas - Sunday brought a return to the suburban roots of rugby league as a slightly soggy Leichhardt Oval hosted a match which matched the overhead conditions at times. It never reached any great heights but was an enthralling contest throughout.
Gold Coast have been the major surprise packet if not trivia question for years to follow being the only side since the 1950s to lead the competition with a negative points difference. It will be no consequence to the fans though after some lean years the Gold Coast have started 2014 with a bang.
Similarly they started this contest off with a bang - memories of the thumping defeat in round two still ringing loud in their ears. Aidan Sezer missed an early penalty but cleared that out of his mind scoring the opening try combined with potting his second penalty goal to give the Titans an eight-nil lead after fifteen minutes.
No one embodied the spirit of the contest this afternoon than Greg Bird who scored late on to confirm the victory for his side combining with our LeagueUnlimited Man of the Match Aidan Sezer who slid a grubber through for the second rower to pounce upon. Earlier the tireless forward was getting in the face of the Wests forwards forcing errors and penalties.
He added a penalty goal to his point tally after taking over goal kicking duties from Aidan Sezer. Just before the break it was the lesser light but no less hard working Paul Carter imitated his team-mate getting in the face of Braith Anasta causing the charge down then sending winger Anthony Don away to extend the lead to 16-nil at the break.
Tigers entertained the brief notion of a comeback when Blake Austin starting from the interchange bench provided a spark for the home side, as he didn't give up on a rebounded kick giving Tim Simona the opportunity to pounce once Kevin Gordon kicked it into his direction in trying to clear. It was the closest the Tigers got in being out-muscled and out-enthused by the Gold Coast Titans who lost halfback Albert Kelly halfway through the first half with a lower leg fracture.
The locals will be disappointed especially after the manner of victory in their last home game at Leichhardt plus their last gasp victory over the Parramatta Eels on Easter Monday. For the Gold Coast Titans they will be chuffed to sit next to Canterbury and Manly, two perennial top four teams with a good start to 2014.