The Gold Coast Titans held off a fast-finishing Wests Tigers tonight to win 36-28 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
In a see-sawing contest, the Titans were able to break their three-game losing streak.
However, their defensive problems over the last few rounds were still very much on display.
After a raft of early Tigers errors, the Titans opened the scoring inside the first ten minutes.
Tanah Boyd grubbered into the in-goal and Philip Sami was the last man standing to score.
The Titans were in again minutes later with some of the best football.
From the kick-off, the Titans shifted left and Alex Brimson went through a huge gap.
He beat Adam Doueihi and found Tyrone Peachey, who held off Luke Brooks on a 50m run to the try line.
A Jarrod Wallace offload continued the early onslaught, which ended with David Fifita running into space on the left edge.
He drew the defence and Brian Kelly was in for the Titans’ third try in five minutes.
Jamal Fogarty was hitting his conversions sweetly and the Titans lead 18-0 inside the first fifteen minutes.
Over the past fortnight, the Titans have given up big leads and the warning signs were soon evident again.
A David Fifita forward pass gave the Tigers a few repeat sets on the Titans line.
Twenty minutes in, Doueihi held up the ball nicely for Joey Leilua and he was too strong for the Gold Coast defence.
Momentum had shifted to the Tigers, and they were in again just seven minutes later.
Beau Fermor gave Jake Simpkin a little too much room at dummy half and he took full advantage. The deficit was back to six.
There were a couple of moments tonight when the Titans scored against the run of play.
With ten minutes to go in the first half, we got the first moment. A Jamal Fogarty bomb was taken brilliantly by Anthony Don.
He somehow got the pass away to Fermor and he scored in the corner, setting up a 24-12 half time lead.
The Tigers started the second half well on top but poor last tackle options caused the pressure to be relieved for the Titans.
In their second try against the run of play. Fogarty collected a Brooks grubber and scampered downfield before finding Don.
From the ensuing play, quick hands left put Sami in for his second.
With just seventeen minutes left on the clock, the Titans struck again.
After some conjecture about a possible knock-on in the lead-up, a neat grubber from Peachey went into the in-goal and Boyd took full advantage.
At 36-12, the Titans were seemingly home.
Again, the Tigers responded. After a ruck infringement, a quick tap from David Nofoaluma caught the Titans defence napping and the deficit was reduced.
With ten minutes to go, Adam Doueihi sent a long ball to Nofoaluma.
He beat a clearly injury hampered Brian Kelly to reduce the deficit to twelve.
The Tigers had their chances late, but a Luke Garner knock-on from a questionable Brooks pass took the wind out of their sails.
After David Fifita was sent to the sin bin for a high shot. Doueihi crossed with a minute remaining but it was too little, too late from the Tigers.
After a spirited performance last week against the Dragons, the Tigers were out of the gates slowly tonight. It eventually proved too much.
For their part, the Titans will happily take the two points.
However, their inability to defend their line will keep the headaches coming for Justin Holbrook.
Holbrook was pleased with his side’s efforts but knows that they cannot afford to continue fumbling their way to wins.
“The main thing for us after three losses is that we won. It was a pressure game for us tonight.
“I told the boys that and for me the players’ effort is an indicator that it was worrying them,” Holbrook said.
“That effort is exactly what we need and we need more of that.
“Good sides just keep the foot on the throat and probably go on to win 42-12.
“We are just fumbling our way to the finish line.
When we play well we are pretty good but we have got to play well for 80 minutes against Penrith because they do.”
In the end, the Tigers put themselves under too much pressure to try and procure a win in the eyes of coach Michael Maguire.
“They scrambled really well and they wanted it at that moment – more than we did at times during the game,” Maguire said.
“We had moments in the game where we put ourselves under pressure and we scrambled to stop the play but you have got to have that every single play in the NRL.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3 points – Alex Brimson (GLD) has perhaps been slightly below his best in recent weeks, but he menaced the Tigers defence tonight.
His run through the middle of the ruck set up the Titans second try whilst his support play caused issues all night.
2 points – Adam Doueihi (WST) has quickly become the Tigers key player.
Whilst his kicking game tonight was not up to his usual standards, he had a hand in two tries and scored one himself.
1 point – Jarrod Wallace (GLD) had a strong game up front, with his offloads in the first half causing plenty of problems for the Titans.
With the game on the line, in his second stint, Wallace was again getting through a mountain of work.