2164-day drought broken as Titans’ troubles continue
It may have been a new-look Gold Coast playing group and coaching staff but it was the same old result for the struggling Titans.
With nothing left to play for in 2019, the Titans were blown off the park in a 38-18 second half stampede by the Melbourne Storm at Cbus Super Stadium.
The sacking of coach Garth Brennan last week was described as a change that needed to be made but following Sunday's result, more still needs to be done to turn the fortunes of the club around.
The 11,143 fans were almost treated to a Gold Coast upset as they jumped out to a 12-nil lead after seven minutes against a side without five of their Origin stars.
But the control and experience of the Melbourne Storm buried the home side to their 13th loss of the season.
It was first versus last on the premiership table afternoon and the difference between the two sides was clearly evident in the seven-tries-to-three thumping.
The Gold Coast started the match as if they were on top and the Storm were on the bottom - after Melbourne coughed up uncharacteristic errors and the Titans were able to turn it into points.
It was the Gold Coast's first outing since the sacking of coach Brennan and stand-in coaches Craig Hodges and Luke Burt made seven changes to the playing group and change to their playbook.
Titans winger Brenko Lee was recalled back into the squad after being dropped in Round 2 this year and it took him just three minutes to post first points.
Jarrod Wallace's try in the seventh minute epitomised the Gold Coast's new-found determined attitude as he steamrolled through four Storm players to score his first try since Round 5 this year.
The Titans would have felt the steely gaze of performance and culture chief Mal Meninga watching on intently from the crowd, after he put the playing group on notice leading into the match.
But determination wasn't enough to contain the top-of-the-table Storm as they were able to swing the tide back into their favour to cross on seven separate occasions.
With 24 points having been scored in the opening 12 mintues, it shaped to be a points bonanza at Cbus Super Stadium.
But the Storm put on a clinical second stanza performance as the Titans crumbled to their equal worst start from 17 games since their 2011 squad.
Titans centre Lee pounced on a rare loose pass by Cameron Smith to open the scoring in the third minute of the match.
The tide continued to flow in the Titans' favour when Wallace steamrolled his way over five minutes later.
Melbourne finally got their hands on the ball and posted three tries in 11 minutes, including winger Sandor Earl's first NRL try since Round 23, 2013.
Bryce Cartwright got the Titans back in the lead in the 32nd minute before Melbourne winger Suliasi Vunivalu took the Storm 22-18 into the halftime break.
The visitors were able to put on three unanswered tries in the second half to extend Melbourne's lead on the ladder, while the Titans continue their search for answers to fix their struggles.
TITANS V STORM: FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED
1. The sacking of Garth Brennan was described as the "change the Titans needed" but Sunday's result was proof there needs to be more done to fix the struggling club. The Gold Coast are seriously lacking a game manager to drag the team out of trouble.
2. Melbourne fielded a second-string side, with five Origin stars absent, and they were still able to easily put the Titans to bed. The home side finished the match with 27 missed tackles against a side that will capitalise on poor defence.
3. The Titans showed glimpses of their potential however, and the trick for the new coach will be to harness that potential into an 80-minute performance. The home side was able to get out to a 12-nil lead within seven minutes but took the foot off the pedal to allow the Storm to take over the game.
4. Jarrod Wallace had one of his best games of the year. His grit and determination has been missing this season and it was on show when he rolled over four Storm players to score in the seventh minute of the game.
5. Dalby-born Brodie Croft is finding some great form for the Storm. He finished Sunday's match with three try assists, a linebreak, 36 running metres and 14 tackles. The youngster had huge Cooper Cronk-sized shoes to fill at Melbourne, and he's slowly making the No.7 jersey his own.
MELBOURNE 38 (S Vunivalu 2 S Earl J Olam R Papenhuyzen C Smith J Stimson tries C Smith 5 goals) bt GOLD COAST 18 (B Cartwright B Lee J Wallace tries T Roberts 3 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium. Referee: David Munro, Peter Gough. Crowd: 11,143