Hayne Slips, Titans Fall
Gold Coast’s stunning season came to a controversial climax on Friday night as the Titans fell 44-28 to Brisbane in a finals carve-up at Suncorp Stadium. The Titans conceded just the second penalty try of the season and were on the wrong end of an 8-4 penalty count in their first finals appearance since 2010. Little went the Gold Coast’s way in front of 43,170 after they lost forward Zeb Taia (quad) in the warm-up and halfback Ashley Taylor (hip) in the first half of the elimination final. But it was The Bunker’s decision to award a penalty try early in the contest which proved crucial in the 13-try thriller. Titans centre Konrad Hurrell dislodged the ball from Jordan Kahu’s grasp with his foot as he attempted to plant it for Brisbane’s first try and The Bunker ruled there was no doubt Kahu would have scored if not for Hurrell’s foul play. The decision was so controversial NRL referees boss Tony Archer opted to provide an explanation of the reasoning at half-time. If the Gold Coast was to produce an upset against its “big brother” they needed some luck to fall their way and there was little of that for the underdogs. Nearly every marginal call went against the Titans as they suffered their 10th straight defeat against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. The Titans were the surprise packets of 2016, qualifying for their first finals appearance in six years despite starting the season as the shortest priced woodenspoon favourites in NRL history. Anything above 14th place on the ladder could have been classed as a successful season for the Titans but coach Neil Henry managed to squeeze every ounce of potential from his squad. The Broncos and Titans’ last finals meeting was in 2009 with Brisbane recording an eerily similar 40-32 win. Losing Taia before kick-off was a blow but Chris McQueen got the Titans off to a dream start, pouncing on a Corey Oates knock-on to put the Gold Coast on the board after three minutes. It didn’t take the Broncos long to hit back, albeit controversially, when James Roberts threw a clever pass to Kahu after being brought down by Jarryd Hayne.
Hurrell’s left boot led to the first penalty try in a finals game since the 2013 decider but the controversy didn’t rattle the Titans who bounced back with a try to David Mead and found themselves with an 18-16 lead at the break when Josh Hoffman scored against his former club. Hayne had a Ben Hunt “grand final moment”, spilling the second half kick-off which allowed Alex Glenn to give the Broncos a 22-18 lead. Hayne’s knock-on was the last thing the depleted Titans needed and they found themselves on the back foot for the rest of the game as the Broncos kept their title dreams alive and ended the career of Gold Coast co-captain Nathan Friend.
But it was The Bunker’s decision to award a penalty try early in the contest which proved crucial in the 13-try thriller.
A dejected Jarryd Hayne looks on as Brisbane Broncos Anthony Milford is congratulated by his team mates last night.