NRL: Titans end Newcastle's playoff hopes

Knights players line up as a mark of respect to Alex McKinnon, left, before the Rise for Alex round. Photo / Getty Images
Knights players line up as a mark of respect to Alex McKinnon, left, before the Rise for Alex round. Photo / Getty Images

Newcastle's slim hopes of making the NRL finals appear dashed after going down 22-8 to the Gold Coast at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.

In the centre-piece game of the Rise For Alex round, the Titans led 12-0 at halftime against a sluggish Newcastle and extended that lead to 16-0 with 27 minutes to play before the Knights mounted a fightback.

Joey Leilua crashed over with 19 minutes left in the contest to bring the 26,401 crowd to their feet.

A Tyrone Roberts try then narrowed the Titans' lead to 16-8 with 10 minutes go before the playmaker missed the vital conversion.

James Roberts' try in the final minute sealed the win for the Titans to keep early-season pacesetters Gold Coast in the play-off hunt while Newcastle's three-match winning streak ended.

On a cold, grey afternoon, Alex McKinnon led the sides onto the park before kick-off and wiped tears from his face as he was introduced to the crowd.

In a slow first half, the Titans scored first when centre Roberts got on the outside of his opposite Joey Leilua and raced upfield.

He then drew Knights fullback Darius Boyd and Anthony Don raced away untouched under the posts to complete a 70m movement.

With man of the match Dave Taylor proving a handful playing at centre every time he touched the ball, the Queensland representative extended the visitors' lead to 12-0 in the 33rd minute when he crashed through the defence of Korbin Sims, Beau Scott and Darius Boyd.

It was a lead they would hold to the break.

Mark Minicheillo then scored to put them ahead 16-0 after 53 minutes before Newcastle finally clicked into gear.

But continued errors hurt the home side and a stoic Gold Coast defence stuck strong.

Knights skipper Gidley didn't return after halftime after suffering a groin injury.


-AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf02 at 26 Dec 2014 18:43:41 Processing Time: 308ms