Wests Tigers have suffered a narrow defeat in Holden Cup today, with the Gold Coast Titans recording a 36-34 victory at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
The high-scoring affair featured a total of 13 tries, with the Titans side running in seven between just three players as halfback Josh Ralph crossed for a hat-trick.
The return of Esan Marsters and Pio Sokobalava from injury wasn’t enough to get the Willie Peters coached side over the line, as the Titans caused somewhat of an upset over the in-form Wests Tigers.
Wests Tigers started the game full of confidence, with line-breaks to Mark McCormack and Jacob Liddle early setting the side up for a try in the right corner to Obed Karwhin, who did well to finish a nice move by his centre Toa Mata’afa.
Roman Ioelu was unable to convert the try from the sideline, with the score remaining at 4-0 after just seven minutes of play.
The Titans struck back in the 13th minute with fullback AJ Brimson stepping his way through the middle defence and finding his half Josh Ralph who sped away to score under the posts.
Josh Rogers put the Gold Coast ahead 6-4 with a simple conversion from in front of the goalposts.
Wests Tigers returned the favour just minutes later, with halfback Thomas Bartley giving a nice short-pass close to the line, with McCormack barging his wat over on the left edge.
Ioelu made no mistake with his second shot at goal for the day, with Wests Tigers taking a 10-6 lead after 19 minutes.
On the very next set, five-eighth Veiru Mapesone showed a great set of skills to fake a kick on the last and throw it back on the inside, finding Liddle who did well to draw the fullback and find Jakob Giles who wouldn’t be stopped.
Ioelu converted the try, making it a 16-6 lead for the home side after 21 minutes of play.
Wests Tigers continued their roll-on, earning a penalty from the next set and making it look all too easy with giant prop forward Taniela Paseka carrying three defenders over the line to score.
With Ioelu adding the extras, Wests Tigers raced out to a 22-6 lead after just 26 minutes.
The Titans finally managed to get their hands on the ball and were awarded a penalty soon after, taking full advantage with centre Phillip Sami reaching out to score from a second-man play on the right edge.
Rogers hit the posts with his conversion, with Wests Tigers still holding a 12-point advantage with a 22-10 scoreline after 30 minutes.
With just three minutes remaining before half-time, the Titans scored a crucial try with Ralph throwing a huge dummy to stroll over the try-line untouched.
Rogers converted the try to peg back Wests Tigers’ lead to just 22-16 at the half-time break.
The Titans got off to a flying start in the second stanza, with Rogers throwing a short-ball to his centre Sami who sliced through for his second try of the match.
Rogers evened the scoreline at 22-all after 43 minutes, with his side reeling in an 18-point Wests Tigers lead.
Gold Coast turned the pressure right up on the very next set, making a huge line-break down the left edge, with winger John Olive finishing the move to score an 80-metre Titans try.
Rogers hit the posts for the second time, with the conversion waved away as the Titans hit the lead 26-22 after 47 minutes.
Wests Tigers fullback Daniel Roberts equalled the scoreline with a great effort in the 53rd minute, throwing a dummy and beating three defenders to go over for an important try.
Ioelu put the home side back in front with a tricky conversion, taking Wests Tigers to a 28-26 lead after 54 minutes.
With Wests Tigers deep on the attack, Mapesone’s pass was picked off by Titans’ half Ralph who went 90 metres to score his third try of the match.
With the easy conversion from Rogers, the Titans went out to a 32-28 lead with 21 minutes still to play.
Gold Coast continued on their huge run, with Brimson grubbering behind the line to find Olive who pounced on the kick to score.
Rogers couldn’t convert the try, however the Titans secured a handy eight-point advantage with a 36-28 lead after 65 minutes.
The flurry of tries continued, this time to Wests Tigers hooker Liddle, who fooled the defenders with a fake to crash over the line for his first of the day.
Another conversion from Ioelu narrowed the Titans’ lead to 36-34 with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
Depsite some late chances for both sides, the tries dried up in the final stages of the game as the Gold Coast Titans held on for a narrow win.
Gold Coast 36 (Ralph 3, Sami 2 Olive 2 tries; Rogers 4/7 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 34 (Karwhin, McCormack, Giles, Paseka, Roberts, Liddle tries; Ioelu 5/6 goals)