Newcastle Knights 8
Tries: Joseph Leilua, Tyrone Roberts
Field Goals: nil
Gold Coast Titans 22
Tries: Anthony Don, Dave Taylor, Mark Minichiello, James Roberts
Goals: Kevin Gordon 3
Field Goals: nil
Hunter Stadium’s 26,401 patrons on Sunday paid tribute to Alex McKinnon as part of the #RiseForAlex weekend.
McKinnon’s friend Darryl Bowen blasted out the song honouring his friend, a tune that was featured at all National Rugby League matches over the weekend. The two teams walked out as one onto the Stadium with McKinnon leading the parade. A chant of “Alex…” went through the Stadium followed by cheering with a teary McKinnon lining up next to his fellow Knights teammates before kickoff. This was raw emotion.
There are reports that over one million dollars has been raised over the weekend to assist McKinnon in his lengthy recovery.
Willie Mason showed early his intentions to lift the Knights on the special day. But the Titans weathered the early front and were unluckily denied a try to Brad Takaraingi before Anthony Don scored on nineteen minutes after James Roberts was too quick for the Knights defense.
Dave Taylor caused plenty of problems for the Knights as he returned somewhere close to his career best form. He was rewarded eight minutes from the break when he proved too strong, trampling over Beau Scott and Korbin Sims on his way to the line.
In a horrid afternoon for Akuila Uate, he provided the Knights with a late chance in the half as he took a gamble down a short blindside that resulted in being bundled into touch. Poor execution dogged the home side most of the afternoon as they trailed by twelve points going into the break.
Newcastle showed intent in the early stages of the second half. A short kick off from the half time restart gave them first chances to attack. But just like the first half, the Titans were able to repel and start to dominate. Tom Kingston’s break down field resulted in Mark Minichiello crossing a short time after, the recipient of a clever flick pass by Taylor.
At the hour mark Joseph Leilua finally got the Knights on the board. Mason only moments back from the interchange made a barn storming run at the Titans defense. Daniel Mortimer gave the Knights a gift from the restart as he was called offside for being in front of the kicker. Boyd shortly after was ruled to have lost the ball in trying to score. Boyd was again involved when the bounce of the ball went against him chasing through a Jarrod Mullen kick from the scrum base.
With ten minutes to play Tyrone Roberts gave the Knights some hope as the margin was reduced to eight points. The Titans almost went over through Mark Ioane but he lose control of the ball in the put down. It was James Roberts who was rewarded for a strong match in scoring the final try of the afternoon chasing through a kick from Mortimer, set up after a break by former Cowboy Kalifa Fai Fai Loa.
Newcastle’s loss almost ends their slim finals hopes and with a tough draw ahead they will look forward to 2015 under new management following Wayne Bennett’s departure. Kurt Gidley picked up a groin injury and missed all of the second half. John Cartwright will continue to be a coach under pressure despite the win. The Titans second win in nine matches showed plenty of grit with Taylor by far the best on field. Mortimer making the most of his opportunities had a solid game at halfback.