2020 State of Origin squads
14 days ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
It is a bittersweet ending to 2020 for Titans fans, both celebrating a fifth-straight win by 36-6 and wondering where this late-season form had been all year.
There is a genuine excitement that the flurry of wins isn't going to be a false dawn.
The first of those five-straight wins - a 14-10 one over the Dragons - came after the Red V had over 40 possessions in the Gold Coast red zone for just the one try.
Justin Holbrook has instilled a serious defensive resilience in this Titans side.
Add the confidence Ashley Taylor is playing with alongside the inspired Jamal Fogarty along with a host of star recruits and a top-eight finish will be the bare minimum expected of the Gold Coast next year.
AJ Brimson also is a near certainty to make his State of Origin debut after a starring second half, with 173 metres, eight tackle busts, two tries and two linebreaks after a relatively quiet first 40.
Based off their past month of football the Titans would be a bigger threat to South Sydney than Newcastle, who have struggled for consistency.
Friday night's thumping is the worst-possible finals preparation for the Knights, who will go into next week's do-or-die clash with no confidence.
Big wins over the Dragons and Sharks have papered over otherwise poor form which proves Adam O'Brien's men to be nothing but cannon fodder even if they overcome the Bunnies.
That should not take away from a blistering effort from the Gold Coast.
The Knights were lethargic in the first half and the Titans took full advantage to run in three tries.
Newcastle did cross the line a few times to have tries disallowed but they were completely outplayed.
Taylor's confidence has been restored - there is a genuine enjoyment in the way he is playing at the moment.
The same can be said for the entire Titans side who threw the ball around in the opening half to tire Newcastle's forwards out.
It paid dividends as Taylor threw a beautiful cut-out pass to create space out on the left before backing up in support to score.
Mitch Rein then ducked and weaved his way through for their second try of the night.
Edrick Lee, having been denied by the Bunker before, then held onto a Sione Mata'utia pass to hit back for the Knights.
But Newcastle failed to gain any real ascendancy as errors cruelled their chances.
The Gold Coast, on the other hand, continued to push ahead as Treymain Spry did spectacularly well to keep a poor Fogarty pass in the field of play.
Brian Kelly then showed dogged determination to power past three Knights and score.
The second half opened with both sides guilty of poor ball handling before AJ Brimson exploded for a length-of-the-field solo effort to push the lead out to 16.
It was all confidence for the Titans as Spry steamed onto a kick and raced away from deep inside his own half before linking with Taylor who raced away for his second try.
It continued to get embarrassing for Newcastle as Brimson stepped his way through for his second before Kevin Proctor finished off another long-range effort.
The Knights will play the Rabbitohs next week while the Titans will be hoping to build off this late-season form in what shapes as a promising season next year.
Gold Coast Titans 36 - Newcastle Knights 6
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
Halftime Score: Gold Coast Titans 16 Newcastle Knights 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Ashley Taylor
2 points - Alexander Brimson
1 points - Jarrod Wallace
GOLD COAST TITANS (36)
Tries: Ashley Taylor (2), Mitch Rein, Brian Kelly, Alexander Brimson (2), Kevin Proctor
Conversions: Ashley Taylor (3/5), Jamal Fogarty (1/2)
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (6)
Tries: Edrick Lee
Conversions: Mason Lino (1/1)