On Sunday afternoon Knights captain Kurt Gidley put in a sensational man of the match winning performance, leading Newcastle to topple the Titans 24 – 16 at Skilled Park.
Gidley, keen to show NSW Origin selectors that he was worthy of another go despite having been forced to captain the Blues from the bench in Origin II, was powerful throughout the full 80 minutes allowing them to score their sixth win of the season and move up to 11th spot on the ladder.
The weakened Gold Coast squad were forced to play without skipper Scotty Prince, out with a hamstring injury, and their often illogical and confused performance showed how badly they needed their captain’s guidance.
Newcastle were first to score on Sunday when Zeb Taia got over in the 7th minute. Gidley, who had a perfect four from four record on the day, converted the first and the visitors led by six after the first 10 minutes.
In the 18th minute the Titans started to gain some momentum as Ashley Harrison opened their account with a try converted by veteran Mat Rogers to tie the score six all.
Nine minutes later powerhouse Brad Meyers swung the score in favour of the Gold Coast with another converted try.
But Newcastle put in a brilliant fight and followed up with their second try just six minutes later when James McManus got over to again tie the score 12 all.
With three minutes of the first half left to play, Newcastle snared the lead with a nifty four-pointer from Junior Sau, the conversion giving the Knights an 18 – 12 lead heading into the break.
From the booming first half, fans were expecting a high scoring second instalment too. But it wasn’t to be as the two teams battled on through a gritty second half.
The Gold Coast got the first points back from the break when William Zillman scored an acrobatic try in the 52nd minute, but Rogers missed the conversion and so they still trailed by two 18 – 16.
Then in the 67th minute the Knights Wes Naiqama scored the match-sealing try, again converted by Gidley. With no more points scored, the Titans Brad Meyers shut down by a try saving tackle from Gidley in the last 10 minutes, the final result was then 24 – 16 in favour of the Knights.
In more bad news for the Titans, still number four on the ladder, they lost another two of their top players to injury throughout the course of the match with centre Sam Tagataese (shoulder) and winger David Mead (knee) joining their captain on the sidelines.
Despite Gidley’s inspiring performance on Sunday, Origin selectors have not opted to retain him as captain for the third and final Origin showdown Wednesday week, instead handing the honour over to the Sharks Trent Barrett. Read more about the squads for Origin III at State of Origin Teams.
This weekend the Titans and the Knights both have a bye to freshen up. Meanwhile there are five great matches scheduled for Round 17 including the Broncos v Wests Tigers on Friday night. Get in on the Rugby League Betting action with Ladbrokes.com.au today!