Titans dazzle cold Knights
Gold Coast 24 Newcastle 14
Unstoppable ... Greg Bird of the Titans beats Chris Houston of the Knights to score. Photo: Getty Images
Gold Coast centre Jamal Idris was dubbed the world's biggest human two years ago and the scary thing for his future opponents is he's got a lot bigger since then.
Last night, however, it was his deft offloads rather than his bulk that caused havoc for a Newcastle team which started strongly but petered out after 20 minutes.
Pummelled ... the Knights' Alex McKinnon is taken out by Mark Minichiello. Photo: Getty Images
The Knights' pre-match pledge was to complete their sets, and they did for a while. However, the Titans played a form of hot potato that looked scratchy early but ultimately allowed them to dominate.
Gold Coast forwards Greg Bird, who scored in the 52nd minute to seal the win, Nate Myles and Ashley Harrison all shook off the bruising and swelling they suffered in Wednesday's State of Origin to play bravely, but Idris's offloads and crunching defence summed up the spirit of the night. He created opportunities and his teammates made the most of them.
Others played impressively for the Titans including fullback William Zillman, centre Beau Champion, prop Luke Bailey, who has braved a broken thumb and five-eighth Aiden Sezer. Scott Prince made an impact at halfback.
The other emotion ... Willie Mason of the Knights looks dejected at fulltime. Photo: Getty Images
The shining light for Newcastle was prop Willie Mason, who did all he possibly could to provide his team with a spark, but it wasn't enough despite late tries by Alex McKinnon and Tyrone Roberts.
Knights speedster Akuila Uate backed his reflexes and strength to give Newcastle the early advantage.
The NSW Origin winger capitalised on some sharp lead-up work in the sixth minute by five-eighth Jarrod Mullen and centre Junior Sau to score in the corner. With that, the early tide of the match flowed in Newcastle's favour thanks to strong runs by forwards such as Mason, Chris Houston and Kade Snowden and the direction of Danny Buderus, who returned from the Achilles tendon problem that sidelined him for a month.
The Gold Coast responded with pushed passes, poor defensive selections and silly penalties.
And so it went. Prop Luke Douglas gifted the Knights another set of six when he was penalised for a high tackle; fullback Zillman threw a poor pass and Idris was caught out twice in defence. However, just as it appeared they were on the ropes Zillman made a great break in the 19th minute and evaded Knights defenders with ease before he linked up with hooker Matt Srama. Prince's conversion was successful and the Titans edged ahead 6-4.
Idris then sowed the seeds for a great try two minutes later when he offloaded a beautiful pass to back-rower Mark Minichiello, who charged downfield and showed great restraint to not try to throw a miracle pass. After Minichiello's quick play-the-ball, Prince linked up with Champion whose speed and good hands sent Mead over for a try that rocked Newcastle's confidence.
The Titans refused to relent. Three minutes before half-time Myles ran hard on to a flat Srama pass close to the try line and scored.
GOLD COAST 24 (G Bird D Mead N Myles M Srama tries S Prince 4 goals) bt NEWCASTLE 14 (A McKinnon T Roberts A Uate tries T Roberts goal) at Hunter Stadium. Referee: Shayne Hayne, Alan Shortall. Crowd: 15,792.