Titans coach laments ‘frustrating’ Bunker howler
THE Titans' faint finals hopes are cactus after The Bunker produced one of its greatest howlers in Sydney's 20-12 win against the Gold Coast.
The Titans have entered the dreaded "mathematical chance" territory in their quest to taste finals action in coach Garth Brennan's first year in charge.
A play-offs berth seems a 100-1 shot for the Titans and they had little help from officials in front of 10,074 at a frosty Cbus Super Stadium.
The Titans were on the wrong end of one of the most perplexing decisions in The Bunker's three-year history when debutant Roosters halfback Sean O'Sullivan was awarded a try despite a clear knock-on.
"The Bunker made the call - how many looks do they get at it?" Brennan said.
"What did it look like to you? It's very frustrating.
"We need to be better with the football. I'm really proud of the boys' performance defensively but we need to execute better with the ball."
Even O'Sullivan appeared to believe he hadn't scored.
"I thought the player was the best judge of what happened," Titans captain Ryan James said.
"He even knew he didn't score a try."
Roosters coach Trent Robinson disagreed with Brennan and James.
"I thought it was a try," he said.
"It got stripped. The pad was behind him, he pushed it into the pad, let go and recovered it from there."
Despite The Bunker debacle, the Titans did not take their chances against an understrength Roosters side missing stars Cooper Cronk, James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell and Dylan Napa.
For the second straight week big-money Gold Coast halfback Ash Taylor struggled as the Titans slumped to their fourth loss in six games.
After imploding in last week's 34-0 loss to Brisbane, the 23-year-old Taylor was erratic with his kicking, passing and decision-making, proving he is a long way from being a Queensland Origin playmaker.
In contrast, rookie five-eighth Alexander "AJ" Brimson was sensational in his eighth NRL appearance as the Gold Coast mounted a late comeback that eventually fell short.
Earlier, Taylor was lucky a terrible mistake didn't gift Sydney the opening points, but it meant little when Roosters youngster Paul Momirovski became the first of Sydney's three debutants to score.
It took a brilliant offload by Maroons prop Jarrod Wallace for Titans teenager Moeaki Fotuaika to score his first NRL try before the Gold Coast were reduced to 12-men when Will Matthews was sin-binned.
Exploiting the 12-men Titans, O'Sullivan was stripped of the ball on the line by Wallace before clearly knocking the ball on attempting to regather it.
But The Bunker awarded the try, helping the Roosters secure a 14-6 lead at the break which they extended when a rampaging Poasa Faamausili crossed in the 58th minute on debut.
The Titans capitalised through Wallace after Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary was sin-binned and it could have been a two-point game if Wallace was not denied a second by The Bunker for an obstruction by skipper Ryan James.
The Titans surged late but slumped to their 11th loss of the season, leaving the Gold Coast with the daunting task of having to win their remaining seven matches by healthy margins to have any chance of sneaking into the finals.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS 20 (P Faamausili P Momirovski S O'Sullivan tries S Taukeiaho 3 B Ferguson goals) bt GOLD COAST 12 (M Fotuaika J Wallace tries M Gordon 2 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium. Referee: Chris Butler, Jon Stone. Crowd: 10,074