Sunday July 20, 2014 @ 02:00pm
Newcastle Knights
Gold Coast Titans
Hunter Stadium
Half time Score: -
#NRLnewgld #RiseforAlex
Crowd: 26401
Half time Score: 12

Match Review

IT was a day which was all about fighting spirit and there was plenty of it on show from both sides, but ultimately Gold Coast handled the "Rise for Alex" occasion better with a 22-8 victory over an error-riddled Newcastle.

There wasn't a dry eye in Hunter Stadium as the 26,401-strong crowd rose as one for young Knight Alex McKinnon who led both teams out onto the field of play as "Day by Day" rang out over the loud speakers.

A chant of "Alex, Alex, Alex" reverberated around the ground as the inspirational McKinnon was brought to tears.

Willie Mason gave him a kiss on the head. Akuila Uate gave him a heartfelt hug. Hard men Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith did likewise.

It was a truly touching moment.

"The support really does help me, and to everyone here I owe you so much," McKinnon told the crowd.

After the pre-game festivities had subsided and those in attendance composed themselves it was the Titans who ground their way to a 12-0 lead at the break after tries to Dave Taylor and Anthony Don.

Titans captain Luke Bailey told ABC Grandstand after the game his side knew they were up against it.

"We spoke about it was going to be next to mission impossible but it was something we had to do," he said.

"We had a season to play for too; it what a great occasion. The crowd was awesome, they were a bit quiet when we scored tries but it was a great day."

Knights five-eighth Jarrod Mullen offered few excuses for the Novocastrian's lacklustre performance.

"Obviously it was a big occasion for everyone in Newcastle and Alex in particular and we had a job to do out there today and we just didn't do it," he said.

Mullen admitted to also almost being overcome with emotion.

"When the crowd went up I had a quick look over at Macca and he was shedding a tear. It was very hard for me to see that, it was very emotional but it's good to see he's doing well," he said.

After Don and Taylor crossed, the harder the Knights tried to get back into the game the more errors they made and their final completion rate of about 60% was never going to be good enough.

Coach Bennett conceded the "crazy season" had taken its toll.

"I thought they (the crowd) deserved a better performance from us today and it didn't happen from us," he said.

"It was pretty moving before the game when Alex came onto the ground and their response to him. I thought those things kind of inspire you a little ... they do me anyway, but we're all different." 

A Mark Minichiello try in the second half extended the lead to 16 before a brief Knights fightback saw them close to within eight points with 10 minutes remaining after tries to Joey Leilua and Tyrone Roberts gave them a glimmer of hope.

But it wasn't to be.

Titans centre James Roberts put an exclamation point on the Titans ambush when he chased a clever Daniel Mortimer kick to score in the north-eastern corner a minute from full time.

Bailey was full of praise for the young Titan.

"Robbo is an athletic machine and we planned to give him as much ball as possible," he said.

"Hopefully he's found a spot in the team."

Players of the Match

3. Dave Taylor

2. Daniel Mortimer

1. Darius Boyd

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