NRL: Titans close in on top eight

Matt Srama of the Titans dives over to score. Photo / Getty Images
Matt Srama of the Titans dives over to score. Photo / Getty Images

Gold Coast could find themselves in the NRL top eight by the end of the weekend and their 36-16 win over the Sydney Roosters on Friday night suggests they won't be making up the numbers if they do qualify for the finals.

Under plenty of pressure and down 10-0 early in the match against a Roosters team with nothing to lose, the Titans hung tough in defence before showcasing their ability with the ball - bagging four consecutive tries either side of halftime and winning the final 50 minutes 36-6.

Roosters forward Mitchell Aubusson scored in the 61st minute to cut the margin to six, but an all-too common moment of ill-discipline from fiery prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, when he gave referee Phil Haines a spray, allowed Titans skipper Scott Prince to kick the visitors away by eight with a penalty 13 minutes from fulltime.

When William Zillman completed a double and Matt Srama dived over in the final minutes, it was officially curtains for the Roosters' season.

The under-fire club had a crisis meeting during the week to air their grievances and it seemed to pay off early.

The home side threw caution to the wind and Tinirau Arona and Mitchell Pearce capitalised early for a 10-0 lead.

But a piece of David Mead brilliance in the 30th minute sparked a dramatic turnaround and the Titans rallied to take a 12-10 lead into the break.

They kicked on to keep their finals aspirations well and truly alive and importantly cut their points differential to minus 2.

Mead ran 80 metres from his own goal-line after leaping to take a bomb and from the subsequent play, Prince, who orchestrated the victory, darted through a gap to cut the margin to four.

Five minutes later giant centre Jamal Idris crashed over from short range, and, when Zillman and Beau Falloon consolidated the lead by crossing for the first tries of the second half, the Titans had the inconsistent Roosters at their mercy.

The Roosters repeatedly went for the short kick-off from restarts and chanced their hand but a third-straight loss is sure to propel rumours of player discontent.

Heading into the round, the Titans were one of five teams locked on 20 points, just one win behind the eighth-placed Wests Tigers.

Prince, who had a hand in nearly every Titans try as well as scoring one himself, said the team couldn't afford to focus on the ultra-competitive race for eighth spot.

The Gold Coast face a blockbuster next week against high-flying South Sydney at Skilled Park.

"We've just got to win, whatever happens happens," said Prince.

"We don't look that far ahead to be quite honest. People will be sitting back saying they have to win a number of games and if you start talking and thinking like that you put your destiny in somebody else's hands."

The Titans have now won three on the trot and Prince said the Roosters were a danger.

"We were a bit sluggish early but it was great we held strong together," he said.

Coach John Cartwright said the pain is slowly easing for Nate Myles, who is carrying a sternum injury, and he played down the seriousness of a hamstring strain suffered by fellow Origin star Greg Bird.

Cartwright also praised the brilliant recent form of general Prince.

Just 8,134 fans turned up at Allianz Stadium to watch the Roosters who have won only one match from their past 10 starts.

Under-pressure coach Brian Smith conceded the year was over.

"I don't like to look at the ladder at all thanks, I'd prefer not to," he said.

"But we've got a game again next Friday night and we've got an obligation to everybody, our fans and our sponsors but particularly to each other to get our act together and sustain that (first half effort) for much longer than we did tonight."

- AAP

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