Wests Tigers Under 20s have suffered a first-up 34-16 defeat at the hands of the Gold Coast Titans today at Cbus Super Stadium.
With a new Head Coach in Brett Kimmorley and a new-look side featuring 11 rookies, the visiting side weren’t able to make the most of their opportunities in a scrappy Round 1 encounter.
Hot conditions welcomed the two sides, resulting in plenty of mistakes to open the match and early chances going begging. Jacob Liddle looked dangerous from dummy-half and Marion Seve made an explosive line-break early on but the scoreboard remained untouched for the visitors.
It would be the Gold Coast Titans who would strike first through centre Jed Cartwright who scored on their left edge in the 26th minute for a 4-0 lead.
Just a few minutes later, the Titans raided the opposite side of the park, spreading it wide and finding Shaun Hudson who raced away to extend the home side’s lead. Halfback Brayden Torpy converted the try and the Gold Coast held a 10-0 lead after 34 minutes.
Despite some quality attacking opportunities from Wests Tigers, including a 50 metre line-break from Mason Cerruto, the scoreboard remained at 10-0 going into the half time break.
Scoring first in the second stanza was a must for Wests Tigers but it wasn’t to be, with the Titans taking full advantage of the opening possession through fullback Brian Kelly who scored off a sweeping play in the right corner. The conversion was waved away but the Gold Coast held a formidable 14-0 lead after just 42 minutes.
It was all one-way traffic for the Titans early in the second half as they put up a towering cross-field kick to winger Christian Mika who leaped above the pack to score. The conversion to Torpy made it 20-0 after just 50 minutes.
With daunting signs for the Wests Tigers, Liddle, who had been outstanding all game, made the most of a quick play-the-ball and scooted over for a try down the right edge. Eli Levido landed the tough conversion and the visitors were back in the game at 20-6 after 56 minutes.
It looked as if a comeback was on the cards just moments later as Te Maire Martin and Cerruto combined for a nice piece of play. The playmaker provided a perfect inside pass to the custodian who raced 25 metres to score an impressive try. Levido was again successful as the Titans’ lead was cut to 20-12 after 60 minutes.
It wasn’t to be though as the Titans fullback Kelly crossed for quick back-to-back tries, the first of the pair coming in the 64th and the second in the 69th. Gold Coast in turn had the ball game wrapped up at 28-12 with 10 minutes to play.
On a brighter note for Wests Tigers onlookers, replacement Esan Marsters made a brilliant line-break in the 72nd minute and showed great pace for an edge backrower to score in a 40-metre run to the line. Levido missed his first conversion of the game with his side trailing 28-16.
Gold Coast finished the game strong with a try coming with less than one minute on the clock to Shane Wright. The final siren sounded before there was time for the kick-off and the Titans registered a comfortable first-up win.
Wests Tigers will look to record their first win of the season next Monday night against St George Illawarra back in front of a home crowd at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.