Plucky Titans overcome error-riddled Knights

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."

Match Details
Newcastle Knights 8 Gold Coast Titans 22
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Crowd: 26401
Halftime Score: Newcastle Knights 0 Gold Coast Titans 12 Players of the Match:
3 points - Dave Taylor
2 points - Daniel Mortimer
1 point - Darius Boyd

Tries: Joseph Leilua, Tyrone Roberts
Field Goals:
Conversions: Tyrone Roberts (0/2)
Penalty Goals:

Tries: Anthony Don, Dave Taylor, Mark Minichiello, James Roberts
Field Goals:
Conversions: Kevin Gordon (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Live Commentary

We are live from Hunter Stadium on an overcast and cold Sunday afternoon in the Hunter where Alex McKinnon will be in the house very soon. Holden Cup has just concluded and the Knights remain on top of the table after a 42-12 victory. Team news soon.

TEAM CHANGES from the home side sees James McManus and Chris Houston ruled out. Jake Mamo comes into the side on the wing and Adam Cuthbertson returns on the bench.

TEAM CHANGES for the Titans sees Maurice Blair move to bench, Dave Taylor comes into the centres and Brad Takairangi will start at five-eighth.

Not a dry eye in the house as Day by Day blares over the loud speakers.

Alex McKinnon leads both teams out onto Hunter Stadium.

1: We are underway! Newcastle with first use.

1: Mistake free from the Knights as Mullen goes to the air.

2: Mortimer goes to the air and it finds Boyd on the full.

2: PENALTY Knights. Titans offside.

2: Boyd leaves the field to be assessed after a head knock.

4: The Knights take the ball down the short side, but Gold Coast have touched it before it goes in touch. Knights scrum.

5: PENALTY Knights. Mortimer offside.

5: Snowden puts the ball down after a short ball from Smith. Good defence from Gold Coast.

6: PENALTY Knights. Gold Coast again offside.

7: Some brilliant goal-line defence again from the Titans repels the Knights. Falloon is down requiring medical attention.

8: Mortimer goes to the air and Mamo juggles the ball before coming down with it.

9: Gordon comes up with a good catch from a Mullen torpedo bomb.

10: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Gold Coast try.

10: No try is the ruling after Takairangi won the race to the ball after a second kick. 20m restart.

11: PENALTY Titans. Gagai ruled to have taken too long to get off Taylor.

12: Takairangi sets it up for Myles who knocks on. Knights scrum.

13: Darius Boyd comes back onto the field of play as Clydsdale throws a forward pass to Leilua from the scrum.

14: Mortimer trickles a kick into the in-goal and Mamo runs it dead. Line dropout.

15: Great tackle from Rochow pulls Douglas down as he throws a pass into the arms of Clydsdale.

17: Mullen slips as he goes to kick before getting back up off the ground to trickle a kick into touch a metre from the Titans line.

Scored by Anthony Don. Kick to come.

Anthony Don opens the scoring after James Roberts got on the outside of Leilua to take off down the western touchline. He drew Boyd before finding Don on the inside to cross untouched.

Conversion attempt by Kevin Gordon successful.

Gordon adds the extras from alongside the posts.

21: Mortimer's kick is charged down but ruled not to have been played at. Minichiello throws a pass into the arms of Scott.

22: PENALTY Knights. Douglas hangs onto Boyd for too long.

23: Mullen kicks into the in-goal but it's far too heavy. Titans 20m restart.

25: Mortimer goes to the air and Uate takes the ball off Faifai Loa and knocks on. Titans scrum.

26: PENALTY Knights. Gordon runs around the back of his teammates three times before the referees finally make the decision.

27: Mullen's cross-field kick is knocked on as the chasers came through.

28: PENALTY Titans. Leilua comes up with the foot.

29: Mortimer kicks to Uate who comes up with the catch before knocking it on in the tackle. Titans scrum.

30: Mortimer knocks on on the first tackle off the scrum after a horrendous pass from Gordon. Knights scrum.

31: Uate comes up with another error off the scrum although replays suggest Minichiello might have helped it out.

Scored by Dave Taylor. Kick to come.

Taylor brushes through some feeble goal-line defence from the Knights to plant the ball down alongside the posts.

Conversion attempt by Kevin Gordon successful.

Gordon again adds the extras.

35: Falloon kicks out of dummy half and the ball sails out on the full.

36: Enterprising play from the Knights sees Mamo dribble the ball into the in-goal. Leilua comes up with the tackle on Gordon to force a dropout.

37: Uate tries to barge over from dummy half before he's bundled into touch. Titans scrum.

38: Myles loses the ball in a solid tackle from Sims. Knights back on the attack.

39: Roberts throws the ball away and the Titans now have possession.

40: Mortimer kicks on the last and Mamo picks up the ball before he tries to tiptoe down the sideline but then puts his foot on the chalk. Titans scrum.

40: Mortimer kicks into the in-goal and Mamo throws the ball dead.

40: Halftime at Hunter and the Titans lead 12-0.

40: Both teams out on the field ready for the second half. The Titans will have the aid of a stiff southerly at their backs in the second stanza.

41: The Knights get the ball back off the kick-off!

41: Mullen kicks into the in-goal and Don bats it dead. Titans dropout.

42: Kurt Gidley will not return due to a groin injury.

43: Mullen goes across field with the bomb but Don comes up with a good catch. Titans work the ball up field.

44: Mortimer kicks on the last but it sails dead. Knights 20m restart.

45: Leilua comes up with another error as the Knights moved the ball to their left side. Titans scrum.

47: PENALTY Knights. Gagai gets a quick play-the-ball and Roberts catches Blair offside at marker.

48: Mullen adds his name to the sheet of players making an error. Titans scrum.

48: A knock on from the Gold Coast is missed by the referees as they head over half way.

50: Another error this time from the Titans gives the Knights possession back.

51: The Knights again threaten the Titans line and another error is forthcoming. Titans scrum.

53: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Gold Coast try.

Scored by Mark Minichiello. Kick to come.

Mark Minichiello scores another Gold Coast try to extend the visitor's lead after some hot potato play which saw Dave Taylor wrestle out of the tackle from Uate before flick passing to Minichiello to cross out wide.

Conversion attempt by Kevin Gordon unsuccessful.

Gordon hangs the ball out to the right but the wind can't bring it back. No goal.

55: Forward pass to Minichiello from dummy half. Knights scrum.

57: The Knights throw the ball around on the last but as has been the case all afternoon they throw the ball to the touchie. Titans scrum.

58: PENALTY Titans. Knights ruled to have given too much in the play-the-ball.

59: Mortimer tries to kick into the in-goal but Roberts is back for the Knights.

60: PENALTY Knights. Bailey takes too long to get off the tackled player.

Scored by Joseph Leilua. Kick to come.

Leilua finally gets a try for the Knights to put them on the board to give them a chance of a comeback. Plenty of offloads started with Smith and then Mason who found Boyd to pass to Leilua who ran 30m to score out wide.

Conversion attempt by Tyrone Roberts unsuccessful.

Roberts hits the upright from out wide.

62: PENALTY Knights. Titans ruled to have been in front of the kicker at the kick-off. Knights back on the attack.

64: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Knights try.

64: No try the decision. Boyd ruled to have knocked on and the Titans will feed a scrum.

65: Mortimer goes to the air again and Mamo comes up with a good catch.

66: The Knights pass the ball to Gagai who gets out of the tackle of Taylor before Minichiello touches the pass and knocks on. Knights scrum.

66: The Knights kick off the scrum from Mullen looking for Boyd but the ball bounces away from the fullback which sums up the Knights afternoon.

68: Mullen goes to the air and Faifai Loa nearly runs the length but Boyd comes up with the tackle.

Scored by Tyrone Roberts. Kick to come.

Roberts crosses out wide for the Knights as they moved the ball down the Titans right edge. Big kick coming up from the eastern touchline.

Conversion attempt by Tyrone Roberts unsuccessful.

Roberts misses to the right. No goal.

72: More hot potato play from the Knights sees the pass from Mullen go across the sideline. Titans scrum.

75: Mamo takes Mortimer's bomb well and the Knights need a miracle play to get them home as the clock ticks down.

76: Cuthbertson comes up with an error and the Titans will now get home.

77: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Titans try.

77: No try. Ioane is ruled to have knocked on. 20m restart.

77: Mullen kicks for Uate but it goes into touch. Titans scrum.

Scored by James Roberts. Kick to come.

Roberts puts the icing on the cake after a clever kick out of dummy half from Mortimer.

Conversion attempt by Kevin Gordon successful.

Gordon adds the extras from out wide.

80: Fulltime at Hunter Stadium and Gold Coast have beaten the Knights 22-8.