Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
The Gold Coast Titans have come away from Round 1 with a win over Newcastle, winning 34-20 in a high scoring contest at Skilled Park in front of a crowd of 16,203.
The home side endured a horror start as the visiting Newcastle outfit piled on 14 points in the first 27 minutes, but the class of Scott Prince and the commitment of Nathan Friend helped the Titans back to the lead, three tries in the final ten minutes of the first half assisting their cause.
The second half began as a tug-o-war for momentum, the Titans looking to skip clear early through Scott Prince's brilliance, while the Knights took equal measure and reduced the gap to two.
From that point the Titans were able to take control, big bench forward Brad Meyers storming over before another try ten minutes from the close of play confirmed the result.
Newcastle's attack for the most part looked scrappy and it looks like some of the newer recruits will need time to gel. Newcastle have an eight day lay-off to work on these combinations before travelling to Toyota Stadium to face Cronulla next Monday, while the Gold Coast will take their winning form to Wollongong where they come up against a spirited Dragons outfit.
Gold Coast Titans (34) Tries: Mat Rogers, Luke O'Dwyer, Nathan Friend, Scott Prince, Brad Meyers, William Zillman Goals: Scott Prince (5/6) Newcastle Knights (20) Tries: Aku Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Matt Hilder Goals: Kurt Gidley (4/4)
TEAMS: TITANS: 1. Preston Campbell 2. Esi Tonga 3. Josh Graham 4. Brett Delaney 5. Jordan Atkins 6. Mat Rogers 7. Scott Prince (cc) 8. Luke Bailey (cc) 9. Nathan Friend 10. Matthew White 11 Anthony Laffranchi 12. Mark Minchiello 13. Ashley Harrison Interchange: 14. Aaron Cannings 15. Brad Meyers 16. Luke O'Dwyer 17. William Zillman; Reserves: 20. Michael Henderson KNIGHTS: 1. Kurt Gidley (c) 2. James McManus 3. Junior Sau 4. Adam MacDougall 5. Akuila Uate 6. Ben Rogers 7. Jarrod Mullen 8. Dan Tolar 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Ben Cross 11. Steve Simpson 12. Cory Paterson 13. Zeb Taia Interchange: 14. Matt Hilder 15. Chris Houston 16. Richie Fa'aoso 17. Cameron Ciraldo
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Skilled Park is the venue for the 6th match of the 2009 NRL season and with 5 brilliant games already, there's a lot to live up to. The big battle today will see Gold Coast host the Newcastle Knights, with a quality match-up in the halves - Scotty Prince taking on Jarrod Mullen.
Kickoff moments away, teams on their way onto the park now.
5 min: PENALTY Knights - a high ball on the last and it's been spilled by Newcastle winger Akuila Uate... but Cecchin blows a penalty for inside the 10 metres. Pressure on Newcastle relieved again, and now another PENALTY puts them on the attack.
7 min: TRY Newcastle Knights The piggyback penalties help Newcastle up the park and after a break brings them within 10 metres, they spread it wide before sheer strength sees Uate cross for the first points. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful. Newcastle Knights 6-0
9 min: Second tackle into the return set and Ben Cross spills the ball - Titans to attack now.
11 min: The Titans force back-to-back sets from Newcastle after some solid attack. The following set is tackled out by the Knights and it's a handover.
13 min: PENALTY Knights - Nathan Friend penalised for a ruck infringement as Newcastle lose the ball. The kick for touch hasn't gone out - Titans back with the ball! Early kick in the set from the Titans sees the ball dead and a 20m restart.
15 min: PENALTY Knights - Titans players penalised for a grapple and Newcastle will attack from 30m out. They force back-to-back sets.
19 min: PENALTY Titans - Newcastle's set ends scrappily near the corner and a Knights player is ruled offside in the play.
21 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Despite a scrappy performance so far the Knights have extended their lead, Jarrod Mullen crashing over strongly. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley hits the post, but is successful. Newcastle Knights 12-0
24 min: Newcastle drop ball from the returning set again sees them under fire but the Titans can't capitalise, despite a PENALTY.
27 min: PENALTY Knights - another suggested grapple and Scott Prince is losing his cool. For the first time today Gidley elects to strike for goal.
27 min: PENALTY GOAL Newcastle Knights Newcastle's increase their lead to 14 with Gidley's penalty goal. Newcastle Knights 14-0
30 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Knights try - NO TRY. Titans 20m restart.
31 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Brilliant break from Nathan Friend puts Mat Rogers in space and the Titans are on the board with a great try. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Newcastle Knights 14-6
33 min: PENALTY Titans - all the momentum with the Titans now as they again go on the attack.
35 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans The Titans are in again and this time Luke O'Dwyer juggles it a few times before planting it sweetly over the line. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Newcastle Knights 14-12
36 min: PENALTY Titans - The Knights are imploding at the moment giving away silly penalties. Titans bearing down on the Knights line...is it a TRY?
37 min: VIDEO REFEREE Possible Titans try - looks like a potential Inglis-Gasnier pearler from the centenary test last year...
38 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans The year is young but the try of the season so far is awarded to Nathan Friend and the Titans take the lead - James McManus spills it in goal, Esi Tonga managed to grab hold of it and toss it backward before he goes dead, and Nathan Friend cleans up the scraps. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince unsuccessful. Gold Coast Titans 16-14
HALFTIME: Gold Coast Titans 16 Newcastle Knights 14 Possession is 50-50 so far in this match and it shows - Newcastle dominated the first part of the game despite some scrappy attack, but the Gold Coast dominated the final 15 minutes of the half, commanding possession and scoring some great tries to claim the lead at the break. Both teams with plenty of problem areas to address, how they deal with those - time will tell. Join us for the second half shortly.
Second half kickoff: Newcastle with first use of the football as play resumes.
41 min: PENALTY Titans - Newcastle penalised for a strip but off the first tackle the Titans spill it after a crunching tackle.
42 min: And now a spill from the Knights will put the Titans back in possession.
44 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Too easy for the Titans as Prince carves the Knights line in two, planting the ball down 10m to the left of the uprights. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 22-14
47 min: TRY Newcastle Knights A very dubious try there to Matty Hilder for Newcastle. Mark Minichiello drops the ball for the Titans and a few plays later MacDougall is almost held before popping it out for Hilder to score. Some might have said he was held, but the try is awarded. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful. Gold Coast Titans 22-20
49 min: Newcastle gaining some momentum but the last pass to MacDougall out wide is called forward.
50 min: Preston Campbell splits Newcastle wide open but his chip ahead for Scott Prince is deflected by the chasing Knights defenders and it's a line drop-out. Titans to attack again.
52 min: Back to back sets again for the Titans.
53 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Too easy for rampaging Brad Meyers, tramples three Knights defenders and the momentum is back with the Gold Coast. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 28-20
56 min: A bizarre situation from the kickoff, Preston Campbell takes the ball just inside the dead ball line, throws it forward and collects it himself, earning Newcastle a PENALTY. A few tackles later the Knights lose the ball and the Titans make their way back upfield.
57 min: PENALTY Titans - a strip from Newcastle puts the Titans heavy on the attack again. And another strip earns them another PENALTY.
59 min: Brett Delaney cruises over and... hold on, it's a forward pass! A chance for Newcastle to work it out of their own end now.
62 min: Uate drops the ball from a 5th tackle kick and the Titans will get more possession in key field position. Some great defence forces a 6th tackle handover though, Newcastle out of gaol again.
64 min: McManus's bad luck has continued, he drops the ball just before the halfway line for Newcastle.
67 min: Uate diffuses a dangerous situation for Newcastle after some constant attack. They are struggling to make metres from their own end and both teams look out on their feet.
68 min: Some exciting play from the Titans results in a forward pass and run into touch, the Titans attacking lapses keeping Newcastle in the match here.
70 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans William Zillman comes off the bench and wraps the game up for the Gold Coast with a superb 80 metre effort. Game, set and match here at Skilled Park. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 34-20
74 min: Diabolical last tackle kick from Mullen sees the Titans with possession on halfway.
76 min: More rubbish kicking this time from Ben Rogers for the Knights. Titans to go on the attack.
78 min: Gidley makes a break and the Titans defence gives away a PENALTY. Newcastle with a chance to close the gap before the siren sounds. No luck from the set - 20m restart to the Titans with just over a minute left.