Titans 36 Tigers 6
Hot potato: Liam Fulton gets the ball away. Photo: Getty Images
Wests Tigers coach Michael Potter says he will take the plunge after Sunday's mauling by Gold Coast and apply for special salary-cap dispensation for wunderkind Luke Brooks to play first grade.
Potter's dismal first season at the joint venture continued with the 36-6 loss to a depleted Gold Coast team that is clinging to the faintest of hopes that it can still qualify for the finals series.
Taking on the line: Mark Minichiello tries to find a way through. Photo: Getty Images
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Dowling, Mead, Takairangi, Taylor, Minichiello, O'Dwyer||Tries||6||Tries||1||Players||Fulton|
|Players||Sezer 5/6 (83%)||Conversions||5||Conversions||1||Players||Marshall 1/1 (100%)|
|Players||Sezer 1/1 (100%)||Penalty goals||1||Penalty goals||0||Players|
|Players||Field goals||0||Field goals||0||Players|
Last week, NRL officials were criticised for being inflexible about the opportunity for Wests Tigers' under-20s halves Brooks and Mitchell Moses to be blooded in first grade before the end of the season. The NRL said there had been no application by the club for the necessary second-tier salary-cap exemption. There will be now.
"We'll have a talk among the coaching staff and then have a talk to the NRL about it," Potter said after Sunday's one-sided defeat. "Mitchell is still pretty skinny but Luke … we'll have a talk to them and see what they say. I don't know what the answer will be, but we'll ask."
With Wests Tigers running second last heading towards the final month of the season, Potter conceded that some other tough selection choices may be lying in wait for him.
Departing superstar Benji Marshall's place in the team would have been called into question had Moses also been called up but this does not appear likely now. "We'll sit down and discuss a few things," Potter said. "There won't be mass changes but we need to pick the right side. You've got nothing but pride to play for … for the fans and to show [them] there is some will to win within the group.
''There'll be some players there today that will be disappointed with their performance.
"What's disappointing is I thought the other team were just far, far more desperate than us to get the two points. They needed to get two points and it showed out there."
Not one Wests Tigers player carried the ball for more than 100 metres, although the loss of skipper Robbie Farah with a dislocated knuckle in the first half was a mitigating factor.
"In the end he was in too much pain," Potter said.
"It wasn't worth bringing him back on."
After some resistance, Gold Coast steamrolled to victory despite missing Albert Kelly, Jamal Idris, Luke Bailey, Matt Srama and William Zillman.
The Titans struggled somewhat to put their opponents away in the second half, failing to add to their total until the 68th minute - but then they added two more touchdowns.
Potter said a newspaper story last week criticising the contribution of Titans international Dave Taylor had only served to fire up the 122 kilogram giant. Taylor scored a blockbusting 38th-minute try that gave his side a 24-6 half-time lead.
Gold Coast benefited from Greg Bird being moved closer to the action to the centre of the field, where he plays in State of Origin. "He was squealing after 20 minutes," captain Nate Myles quipped.
Like their north-of-the-border compatriots North Queensland and Brisbane, the Titans need to win all their remaining games to have a hope of making the finals. However, they were upbeat after at least being handed a glimmer of hope by ending a four-match losing streak.
"It's been a long, hard month and we needed that win for our confidence," prop Myles said.
Coach John Cartwright added: "While we're out of the eight, it's still in our hands."
GOLD COAST 36 (J Dowling D Mead M Minichiello L O'Dwyer B Takairangi D Taylor tries A Sezer 6 goals) bt WESTS TIGERS 6 (L Fulton try B Marshall goal) at Skilled Park. Referee: Gavin Badger, Alan Shortall. Crowd: 11,731.