After breaking an almost year-long win drought, the Gold Coast Titans travelled to NSW to meet a South Sydney Rabbitohs team also sitting on a 1-3 record.
With Latrell Mitchell’s kick-off went straight into touch, the Gold Coast were given the opportunity to attack from early on, with Anthony Don nearly picking up a try but the winger couldn’t quite gather Jamal Fogarty’s high kick to the corner.
Latrell then made up for his early error as he ran a hard line to collect a short ball from Damien Cook, and despite the ball bouncing off his chest, the full-back regathered the ball, so not to knock-on, and pick up his first try in South Sydney colours.
It didn’t take long for the reinvigorated Titans to pull back though. The ball was spread out to the right-edge and Phillip Sami took on Braidon Burns’s outside shower and showed enough power to break past the centre and Alex Johnston to score in the corner.
The Rabbitohs stepped up their game over the next five minutes, and were camped deep inside the Titans half, and were building up some pressure.
This pressure turned into points, as Cody Walker put a deft grubber kick in behind Don, which Adam Reynolds left to bounce on to Alex Johnston for try number two.
Try number three for South Sydney followed just a few minutes later, and once again, Latrell Mitchell was involved.
Jayden Su’A passed the ball onto the full-back, whose subtle touch onto Dane Gagai meant the winger could accelerate away and beat Sami into the corner and dive over.
The clinical finishing from Souths, as just before the 15th minute, a kick along the floor from Mitchell, which Don looked to gather. However, Burns stripped the ball out of the winger’s hand, collected the ball and dotted down.
The Titans looked to pick up a second try of their own as the half-hour mark approached but good defensive efforts from Mitchell and Su’A stopped Anthony Don and Brian Kelly respectively.
Things went from bad to worse for the Titans, as they lost loose-forward, and future Rabbitoh, Jai Arrow to an uncomfortable hip injury just before the break.
Heading into the final stages of the half, both sides were making unforced errors, but Souths were still looking for a fifth try before the break.
Tyrone Peachey was lucky not to spend ten minutes of the game in the bin, she tackled Cody Walker without the ball, as the half-back looked to chase a kick in behind from Reynolds.
Instead of searching for a try, Reynolds converted a penalty for a 20-point lead at the break.
HALF-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 26-6 Gold Coast Titans
The second half started brightly for the Gold Coast, who, as well as welcoming Jai Arrow back to the field, also pulled back a score after just five minutes.
The Titans were across the line first as Anthony Don claimed Jamal Fogarty’s high kick to the corner and offloaded to Bryce Cartwright who looped around the winger and dived over in the corner.
Cartwright and Don then combined once more, as the second-rower chipped a kick into the corner, but Don couldn’t quite gather the ball to score.
The Rabbitohs had come out for the second period and were struggling to control the Titans.
In the 55th minute, the Gold Coast were searching for their third try, but Keegan Hipgrave’s loose carry let South Sydney off the hook.
With a quarter of the game remaining, the Souths extended their lead, or so they thought.
Adam Reynolds kick across the field was caught by Campbell Graham, who then offloaded to Jayden Su’A, who passed onto Junior Tatola with Gagai on his outside.
Tatola then pushed the ball on and the winger scored in the corner.
However, Tatola was offside from Reynolds kick and the try was scratched off the board.
With the game still within reach for the Titans, and Cartwright seemed crossed for his second of the night.
Ash Taylor’s high kick ricocheted off Anthony Don in the air, and the second-rower dived on top to ground the ball. However, the ball came forward off Don, and the score remained 26-12.
The Rabbitohs went straight upfield and nearly scored their first try of the half, as Reynolds kick was deflected into the arms of Junior Tatola, but the prop-forward was held up.
With just under ten minutes of the game to go, Jayden Su’A was then placed on report for a shoulder charge on Sam Lisone, gifting the Titans an attacking set just 15 metres from the try-line.
A loose pass from Erin Clark let the home side off the hook once again though.
Wayne Bennett’s side looked to close the game out in the final five minutes, as Latrell Mitchell picked up try assist number three.
With Jai Arrow in front of him, the stepped off his left foot to leave the forward stranded, forcing Brian Kelly to come in a make a play. This left Gagai on the outside, who received the pass from Mitchell to score in the corner.
The Titans had the ball in hand in the final seconds of the game, and Taylor attempted a kick into the in-goal area, but Gagai swatted the ball out and the final whistle blew.
FULL-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 32-12 Gold Coast Titans
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Mitchell, Gagai, Graham, Burns, Johnston, Walker, Reynolds, Tatola, Cook, Burgess, Su’A, Lowe, Murray
Interchanges: Knight, Mago, Amone, Sironen
Tries: Mitchell, Johnston, Gagai (2), Burns
Goals: Reynolds (6/6)
Gold Coast Titans
Sami, Don, Copley, Tonumaipea, Kelly, Taylor, Fogarty, Fotuaika, Clark, Lisone, Proctor, Cartwright, Arrow
Interchanges: Boyd, Hipgrave, Jolliffe, Peachey
Tries: Sami, Cartwright
Goals: Taylor (2/2)
Referee: M. Cecchin
Touch Judges: Z. Przeklasa-Adamski, D. Oultram
Video Referee: B. Norrie