The Gold Coast Titans have produced a massive defensive effort to upset the South Sydney Rabbitohs 14-10 at ANZ Stadium tonight.
It was a game suited to the prime time slot of 3am Tuesday morning, as South Sydney, stung after their defeat in North Queensland wanted to get back into the winner's circle. There was no better opponent than a Gold Coast side, who were on a six game losing streak and looking unlike the side that led the NRL competition in the opening months.
After the opening ten minutes, it appeared that the game would go to script, as South Sydney making more changes than an unhappy girlfriend in a shopping mall, started off with a point to prove. A bomb was launched high by Adam Reynolds and Nathan Merritt was allowed to swan about, regather the bomb, offload to the returning Luke Keary, who had finger-tip control to open the scoring.
Following the kick return, Souths would knock on through hooker Apisai Korisau. He was struggled against three defenders and threw an ill-advised offload that hit the deck. This error would be a notable theme running the entire 80 minutes, as neither team could keep a firm grip of the ball or their discipline.
There were 20 plus penalties blown by Ashley Klein and Gavin Reynolds in a contest that wasn't allowed to flow through errors or teams wanting to push the issue. Souths would extend the lead to the largest margin in the whole game, as an official warning following back-to-back penalties, gave Adam Reynolds the chance to make it 8-nil.
Gold Coast, as they have done through the entire season, fought and scrapped. Albert Kelly, on his return from injury brought instant impact after his introduction. The halfback sent an inside ball to David Mead, who was amongst everything tonight, to slice through the defense to bring it to four the difference at oranges.
They took that momentum into the second stanza, scoring within seven minutes of the restart. William Zillman, who was a livewire throughout the contest, evaded the first defender, stepped and leveled the scoreline. It was a position Gold Coast found themselves in their previous game against St George, before going down 19=18 due to a Gareth Widdop field goal.
Ill-discipline once again reared it's ugly two heads, if you will. Titans were pinged for multiple penalty offences in a short space, allowing Adam Reynolds to point to the sticks again. The halfback made it three goals from three and the lead, although slender, was restored by the overwhelming favourites.
In a month, where Costa Rica have knocked over more fancied teams, as often as a Paul Carter tackle Gold Coast found a way to finally snap a losing streak which had the credentials of coach, John Cartwright being questioned, to the point of a t-shirt being made for his sacking. Alex Johnston, fumbled a bomb into the hands of Brad Takairangi who shuttled the pass out to Kevin Gordon, the winger sneaking the ball inside the corner post.
Gold Coast finally got their lead, now they just had to defend it. South Sydney threw all their might through Reynolds, Johnston, Walker and Sutton at the Queensland side but weren't able to crack them. They defended stoutly and forced them to offload passes, that were promptly knocked on or in the final play's case, go over Nathan Merritt's head. The losing streak was over, Gold Coast were back in the winner's circle.