Wests Tigers have suffered a heart-breaking 8-6 loss to the Gold Coast Titans, despite leading with less than a minute to play.
A last-ditch kick by the Titans hit the nearside upright, bounced favourably for the home side, with AJ Brimson diving on a loose ball to score.
The match appeared destined to become the first in the NRL without a try scored, before the match-winning moment at the death.
The first half was a real struggle for points for both sides, with each clunky in attack and prone to errors.
Plenty went against the visitors in the first period; Jacob Liddle was forced off for a HIA after a suspected broken nose, Tyrone Peachey was put in the bin, and the penalty count was 8-4 against.
Despite the one-man advantage, the Titans we unable to capitalise, with the scores locked 2-all at the break.
Each team continued to fumble their occasional attacking chances in the second half, until a Titans obstruction penalty in their own end allowed the Tigers to go 4-2 ahead with 10 minutes to play.
Ruck interference from the Titans gave the Tigers one more penalty goal, with the chance to soak up the clock more handy than the extra two points as they moved to 6-2 ahead inside the final four minutes.
But the Titans' final assault yielded results in the most dramatic of circumstances as a last-play bomb bounced off the post and could not be cleaned up by Jock Madden with AJ Brimson touching down and Toby Sexton slotting the simple conversion to steal the win in the final minute.
Coach Michael Maguire says he could not be prouder of the effort despite the loss, “It’s a cruel game and I couldn’t be prouder of the players for the way they stuck at it.”
“They’re rock solid these guys and there’s a lot of hurt in the change room.”
I thought our defence was really strong and it’s something we’ve been challenging ourselves with as a club and a team.”
We’ve shown what we’re capable of doing. And if they keep doing what they’re doing things will turn.”
Sometimes you don’t get what you’re after in life. But if they do that over and over, we’re going to put ourselves in a winning arena.”
We’ve got to stick at it and things will soon turn our way.Michael Maguire
It’s a ten-day turnaround before the next match; a trip to Cronulla on Sunday 10th April.
Maguire added’ “It’s not about who we play, it’s about how we go about things. That performance there is how we want to go about things.”
“We’ll turn up and get ready to go again. I couldn’t be prouder of that effort.”
The dramatic late try to the Titans averted what would have been the first try-less match of the NRL era.
Jamayne Isaako made his club debut for the Titans at fullback with Jayden Campbell sitting out with a rib injury and looked sharp with ball in hand, easily topping the run metres for the match. However there were also two errors and some suspect end-of-set grubber kicks.
Jock Madden assumed the majority of in-game kicking duties from senior half Luke Brooks.
Alex Twal was placed on report for a crusher tackle on Toby Sexton shortly before half time.
Tino Fa'asuamaleaui was also placed on report for a lifting tackle on James Tamou.
Jacob Liddle was taken for a first-half HIA after a head clash with Moeaki Fotuaika left him with a bloody nose, but he was able to return after passing.
Tyrone Peachey was penalised in his first involvement after coming on for Liddle, then sin-binned for repeated team infrongements soon after.
Kelma Tuilagi was arguably his team's best in the first half in his return from a HIA, but was taken off at half time due to a separate knock.