The Newcastle Knights lost 30-12 to the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Stadium in their 2016 season-opener on Sunday evening.
There was certainly plenty of effort from the red and blues, but the ability to execute at critical moments left the Knights chasing a determined opposition outfit throughout the 80 minutes.
While the end result was disappointing, first grade debutants Pat Mata’utia and Daniel Saifiti scored tries, Akuila Uate came up with some great plays on the right wing and Korbin Sims was strong off the bench.
Several early errors from the Knights saw the Titans threaten their try-line, but some desperate defence from the red and blues kept the home side out.
After plenty of ball, the Titans finally made the Knights pay in the 14th minute, debutant John Olive the quickest to react to a bouncing kick on the left flank. Tyrone Roberts added the extras, and five minutes later the Titans were over again.
It was prop Agnatius Paasi who ran off the hip of Greg Bird to run 20 metres and score, and Roberts again converted to extend his side’s lead to 12-0.
Minutes later interchange forward Korbin Sim’s first involvement was a strip ten metres out from the line that effectively stopped the Titans’ momentum in it’s tracks.
His opportunistic thinking gave Jarrod Mullen the platform to run the ball out wide, and he played debutant Pat Mata’utia through for his first NRL try.
With rain now starting to fall the pitch became increasingly greasy, and Jaelen Feeney lost control of a bomb 20 metres out from his own line.
The Titans looked sure to score soon after, until a collision between cousins Dane Gagai and Josh Hoffman saw the Knights escape again.
The two teams went into half-time with the scores at 12-6, but four minutes into the second stanza the Titans improved their position with another try.
This time it was winger Anthony Don who collected the four points out wide. Roberts was unable to convert from the sideline but five minutes later his halves partner Ashley Taylor prodded a kick through for Zeb Taia to score.
With half an hour left to play the Titans were over again, a somewhat fortuitous Don grabbing his second after a deflected kick. Roberts converted to make the score 28-6.
The Knights scored their second via another debutant in the 68th minute when Hodkinson put Daniel Saifiti through a hole to score. Hodkinson again converted, but while the red and blues continued to probe for the remainder of the match, they just couldn’t find a way through the Titans’ defence again.
With three minutes to play a penalty against the Knights saw Roberts signal for the tee, and his successful kick made the final score 30-12.
Newcastle 12 (T: P Mata’utia, D Saifiti, G: Hodkinson 2/2)
Gold Coast 30 (T: Don 2, Olive, Paasi, Taia, G: Roberts 4/5, P: 1/1)