NRL: The Cronulla Sharks have been given a rare penalty try against the Titans.
THE Titans needed a miracle and it was unexpected hero Leivaha Pulu who produced one at Shark Park last night.
With just one win under their belts prior to Saturday night’s showdown with Cronulla, the Gold Coast were in dire need of a victory.
And it finally came as bench forward Pulu ran in two second half tries to deliver his side a 16-12 win and that much-needed two points.
You could almost smell the desperation on the Titans as they ran out of the tunnel to take on the reigning premiers.
With the likes of Jarryd Hayne, Konrad Hurrell and Kevin Proctor back from injury, it was the perfect night for the Titans to launch themselves back into the winner’s circle, even in front of a hostile crowd of 12,397.
The experience of all three proved crucial, with Hurrell almost unstoppable with the ball and Hayne taking control of the backline, in a fine performance back from an ankle injury.
It’s been a tough start to the season for the Gold Coast, who have battled non-stop injuries and suffered six losses to kick off their 2017 campaign.
But the guts, the grit and the determination that they showed last week against the Broncos finally enough for them on Saturday night – and they did it all with just one man on the bench for the final 25 minutes.
Coach Neil Henry was a proud man after the game, applauding the team’s performance and the returns of Hurrell, Proctor and Hayne.
“The boys have had some guts there for us this year,” he said.
“There’s a belief there and certainly having a few experienced heads back out there, that really helped.
“We needed it and we got it.
“(The win) is crucial to us. We need to get on a bit of a roll. We needed to make a statement.
“Anyone that watched that game, it’s testament to the character the team’s got.”
Pulu scored the match-winning try just three minutes out from full-time and the defiant Titans did everything they could to hold out the Sharks in those final sets.
It finally worked for them. Their defence was incredible.
Pulu was also the man who brought the Titans back within two points in the 67th minute, after he ran off a Hayne pass to make it 12-10 to Cronulla.
You could see from the very first whistle how much this game meant to the Titans.
When even the smallest of penalties went their way, they would come together for group hugs and encouraging back slaps.
However, as is the story of their season, injuries still left them with a one-man bench for the final 25 minutes of the game.
They may have started with one of their best line-ups since Round 1, but they fell like flies once again, with Chris Grevsmuhl (dislocated shoulder), Dale Copley (rib) and Chris McQueen (concussion) all sidelined.
They were also without young playmaker Kane Elgey, after Neil Henry opted to sit him out of the clash with some hamstring issues.
Tyrone Roberts quickly proved he was a worthy replacement however, when just six minutes into the clash, he threw a dummy from five metres out and slipped past Chad Townsend and Paul Gallen to score the opening try.
The Titans will now look to continue this form into next week’s meeting with the Knights.
GOLD COAST 16 (L Pulu 2 T Roberts tries A Taylor 2 goals) bt CRONULLA 12 (1 penalty try) (J Bukuya R Leutele tries J Maloney 2 goals) at Southern Cross Group Stadium. Referee: Chris James, Henry Perenara. Crowd: 12,397.
Originally published as Unexpected hero delivers Titans miracle