Positional Switch Pays Off
With Neil Henry needing to find a way to fit 4 playmakers into his side in Jarryd Hayne,Ash Taylor, Kane Elgey and Tyrone Roberts, the Titans coach decided to move fullback Hayne into the centres. The move proved a masterstroke, as Hayne slotted into the injured Dale Copley’s place, allowing for strength all across the park with Roberts shining at fullback during Hayne’s time on the sidelines. Hayne kept Gagai quite all night, and stormed over for 2 tries in a performance that has him in line for a centre spot in the Blues side. Hayne popped up on both the left and right side of the field for tries, and the positional switch allowed the Titans to essentially have 3 halves picking the Knights apart in Roberts, Elgey and Taylor.
Knights Fall Apart
The Knights were the better side for the opening 20 minutes, and even held an 8-6 lead at halftime, making their collapse in the second half so heartbreaking for Knights fans. The Newcastle side appeared to have lost all intent to win by the 50th minute, and the majority of the final 30 minutes was spent pinned down near the Newcastle try line. 12 errors and 30 missed tackles lead to the Titans having 63% possession, making it impossible for the Knights to keep defending.
Reserves Relish Big Minutes
With bench forwards Chris Grevsmuhl and Agnatius Paasi on the sidelines, reserve forwards Morgan Boyle and Paterika Vai Vai given a rare opportunity in the first grade side. When Jarrod Wallace left the field with concussion in the 30th minute, the duo were given increased minutes, and they clearly set out to make the most of the opportunity with some determined charges. In just his second NRL game, Boyle racked up 125 metres as he charged his big frame into the defensive line in a 41-minute stint. Vaivai was facing his former club in his 3rd game with the Titans, and the hulking prop was an absolute nightmare for the Newcastle defenders. Vaivai ran for 169 metres in just 27 minutes of football, with 70 of his metres coming after contact as he drove defenders backwards with every determined charge. The emergence of these 2 talents has the Titans spoiled for strength in the forward pack when all their players are fit.
He was the Dally M Rookie of the Year in 2016, and the dreaded second year syndrome has clearly had no effect on Titans halfback Ash Taylor, who has been consistently classy all season. Taylor was leading the NRL with 13 try assists heading into Saturday’s game, and he added another 2 to his tally against the Knights. Taylor’s short kicking game is already up there with the best in the NRL, and he showed off his skills by producing a pin-point perfect chip that landed right before the try line, with Konrad Hurrell spectacularly diving and catching the ball for a try. The 22 year old has already established himself as the Titans dominant playmaker, and with each week that he further displays his fantastic skillset, Taylor is surely establishing himself as a genuine chance to be the future of Queensland after Thurston and Cronk.
Gold Coast Titans 38
Tries: Hayne 2, Hurrell 2, Elgey, James, Greenwood
Goals: Taylor 2, Elgey 3
Newcastle Knights 8
Goals: Lamb 1/1