MATCH HIGHLIGHTS | Eels v Titans, Alice Springs
The Parramatta Eels have gone down in the final quarter of the match, suffering a 30-18 defeat in their pre-season trial clash against the Gold Coast Titans at ANZAC Oval, Alice Springs on Saturday 11 February evening in front of 2,207 fans.
The hot and humid conditions meant both teams were going to battle in the heat, and it was a real war of attrition early as both sides looked to find their feet in the conditions, along with their timing in their first pre-season trial of 2017.
A string of early penalties saw the weight of possession heavily in the Blue & Gold favour, but with the Eels camped down the Titans end, they were able to cross the line and put first points on the board thanks to some strong Titans defence.
The momentum swung and as the Titans made their way down field, they earnt repeat set after repeat set testing the Eels defence. A short ball from Titans half Kane Elgey, who was returning form injury, saw a charging forward in Levialia Pulu crash through the defence and cross over for the first four pointer of the game in the 15th minute.
Captain Tim Mannah and prop Daniel Alvaro led the forwards from the front, with several strong charges in the trying conditions and it was Alvaro's final charge of the quarter that earnt the side a penalty as the 20 minute siren rang.
Fogarty opted to take the two, and the Eels trailed 2-6 at quarter time.
The second half saw both sides begin to play some more expansive football, but they lacked the finishing touches to put points on the board.
The Eels had several opportunities to capitalise, with Isaac De Gois held up over the try line and fullback Honeti Tuha knocking on a bouncing grubber over the line as the score remained unchanged as the Eels entered the half time sheds.
The Eels made a handful of changes heading into the second half, rotating their forwads and young half Troy Dargan coming into the action by replacing Jamal Fogarty, partnering Jeff Robson in the halves.
Dargan had immediate impact on the field, earning a repeat set after the Titans spilled a bomb in the corner. A few plays later, Pritchard threw a long ball from dummy half and Dargan sprinted his way through the line to score a converted try.
The Titans kicked long, and it paid dividends in the 51st minute when off the boot of Tyler Cornish, the ball pulled up in goal forcing Tuha to knock it dead. The repeat set turned into rewards, when winger Tyronne Roberts-Davis ended up on the end of a Cornish flick pass to score out wide.
A Titans try went begging, when a grubber off a quick tap was unable to be pulled in by Karl Lawton and the ball bounced dead. The siren rang shortly after with the Eels trailing 8-12 heading into the final 20 minutes.
Dargan looked comfortable in the conditions, and the half put his winger, Atini Gafa, over in the corner and put the Eels back in front after a long cut out ball close to the line.
The conversion was waved away but it didn’t take long for the Eels to trouble the scorers again. Two hit ups off the kick off before livewire Kaysa Pritchard scooted out of dummy half to find some space in the ruck and get behind the Titans defensive line. A simple draw and pass on the fullback found Tuha in support for the fullback to score a 70m try under the posts, as the Eels took a 18-12 lead.
However the Titans did not die wondering, and struck back with two tries of their own in quick succession.
A bouncing bomb ended up in the hands of Elgey, who planted the ball for a converted try before winger Anthony Don put the Titans back in front with a converted try in the corner.
The Eels attacked on the last play of the game, opting for sprialling bomb and kick to the corner, but it was cleaned up by Roberts-Davis in the in goal, who ran 60m before offloading to Phillip Sami to score on the buzzer, securing a Titans 18-30 victory.
Eels 18 (Tries: Troy Dargan, Atini Gafa, Honeti Tuha; Goals: Fogarty 2/3, Woods, 1/1)
Titans 30 (Tries: Levialia Pulu, Tyronne Roberts-Davis, Kane Elgey, Anthony Don, Phillip Sami; Goals: Elgey 4/4 Roberts-Davis 1/1).