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Titans victorious in dour affair
The win takes the Titans into fifth spot on the NRL ladder while the gap between competition leaders South Sydney and the second-placed Storm is now three points.
The game didn't reach any great heights with both sides struggling for cohesion in attack where they were locked at 6-all at halftime.
Albert Kelly looked to have scored first points after 16 minutes after an Aidan Sezer cross field bomb was batted back by winger Anthony Don. With the ball rolling around in the in-goal Kelly dived full-stretch just in front of Ben Hampton but couldn't quite force the ball after referee Jared Maxwell sent it upstairs.
A few minutes later Hampton was again involved, this time at the other end of the field where he finished off a sweeping Melbourne backline movement which started in their own half. Halfback Brett Finch, filling in for Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk, fired a pass to centre Will Chambers. He proceeded to throw a flick pass to winger Sisa Waqa who drew William Zillman before sending Hampton on a free run to the tryline for his first NRL try.
"He was really tough tonight. He's only a small guy, but he copped some attention and he didn't lay down to his credit," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said of his debutant after the game.
Kevin Gordon hit back for the Titans almost immediately with a scrappy try following Waqa's error in contesting a Sezer bomb with Titans centre Brad Takairangi. Referee Maxwell again referred it upstairs but the Titans were given the green lights after the contest was ruled as fair. Both sides continued to move the ball around but as the half wore on and halftime approached, errors started to freely disrupt the flow of the game and they went to the break locked at 6-all.
Just 10 minutes into the second half Widdop was dragged down from behind in a desperate tackle by Albert Kelly and Ryan James as he appeared set slice through the Titans defence. Unfortunately for the Storm custodian he immediately grabbed in pain in the direction of an upper right leg problem with the initial diagnosis as a possible dislocated right hip.
"He's got a dislocated hip, he's in a lot of pain. Hopefully it's a clean dislocation. Boys really feel for him," Bellamy conceded after the game.
Sezer took advantage of a penalty which was awarded to the home side in the 53rd minute directly in front of the posts and he made no mistake slotting the crucial two points and the Titans were never headed.
Anthony Don extended the lead out past a converted try in the 57th minute after some clever inter-play from centre Jamal Idris on the last tackle. Idris jumped into dummy half before going down the blind side, drawing in three defenders before flicking the pass to his winger. Sezer again added the extras as the hosts led 14-6.
However the Storm were not to be denied and again it was Hampton on the scoresheet in the 61st minute after he finished off another sweeping backline move which started inside the Melbourne half. Centre Will Chambers raced down the western sideline after Finch delivered a pass which put him on the outside of his man. With Zillman across in cover, Chambers fired a pass back on the inside for Hampton who didn't panic and scooped up the pass on the bounce. Maurice Blair's successful conversion closed the gap to two points but the Titans kicked clear again on the stroke of fulltime.
Sezer was the architect and with the Storm defence rushing up to put pressure on him he delivered a perfect face ball to O'Dwyer who ran a great line back towards the posts, beating a despairing effort from Hampton at the back. Sezer missed the conversion before the Storm rushed back to halfway and attempted a short kick-off. 15 passes later, and after the siren had sounded, winger Sisa Waqa was tackled 20m out from his own line to end the match.
Gold Coast Titans 18 Melbourne Storm 12
Venue: Skilled Park
Halftime Score: 6 all
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Aidan Sezer
2 points - Jamal Idris
1 point - Will Chambers
GOLD COAST TITANS (18)
Tries: Kevin Gordon, Anthony Don, Luke O'Dwyer
Conversions: Aidan Sezer (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Aidan Sezer (1/1)
MELBOURNE STORM (12)
Tries: Ben Hampton (2)
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (1/1), Maurice Blair (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Interchange: 14. Mark Ioane 15. Ryan James 16. Ben Ridge 18. Luke O'Dwyer
Storm: 1. Gareth Widdop 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Will Chambers 4. Maurice Blair 5. Justin O'Neill 6. Ben Hampton 7. Brett Finch 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Slade Griffin 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Tohu Harris 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Interchange: 14. Jason Ryles 15. Mitch Garbutt 19. Siosaia Vave 20. Junior Moors
For the visitors, two TEAM CHANGES on the bench with Mahe Fonua and Jordan McLean making way for Siosaia Vave and Junior Moors.
Scored by Ben Hampton. Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.
Hampton scores on debut with a scintillating Storm try! They shifted the ball to the left with Chambers who flick passed to Waqa before he drew Zillman and passed back on the inside to Hampton who scored the try. Widdop adds the extras from beside the posts.
Melbourne Storm 6-0
Scored by Kevin Gordon. Conversion attempt by Aidan Sezer successful.
Kevin Gordon hits back for the Titans! Kelly kicked towards his winger with Takairangi contesting the ball which forced the error from Waqa. The Titans winger scooped up the ball and dived over out wide. Sezer adds the extras.
Penalty goal attempt by Aidan Sezer successful.
Sezer puts the home side in front with a successful penalty goal from directly in front.
Gold Coast Titans 8-6
Scored by Anthony Don. Conversion attempt by Aidan Sezer successful.
Anthony Don takes advantage of a brilliant short side play on the last tackle. Good play from Idris who picked up the ball from dummy half, drew in the defenders and flicked a pass to Don who scored. Sezer converts from out near the eastern touchline to put the hosts out by more than a converted try.
Gold Coast Titans 14-6
Scored by Ben Hampton. Conversion attempt by Maurice Blair successful.
Hampton grabs a double! Finch put Chambers on the outside of his man and he burnt down the sideline before firing a pass back on the inside for his fullback who picked up the pass on the bounce to score under the posts. Grandstand finish coming up after Blair adds the extras.
Gold Coast Titans 14-12
Scored by Luke O'Dwyer. Conversion attempt by Aidan Sezer unsuccessful.
O'Dwyer seals the deal by charging onto a great pass from Sezer and stepping on the inside of Hampton to secure the two competition points. Sezer can't add the extras.
Gold Coast Titans 18-12