Match Summary The Gold Coast have launched their 2008 premiership campaign in style with a comprehensive 36-18 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys tonight.
Played in front an enthusiastic crowd of nearly 27,000 at the Titans' brand new home ground in Robina, the match was highlighted with four tries to debutant winger Jordan Atkins.
Atkins bagged two tries in the first half and repeated the effort in the second half, equalling the record for tries on debut. A forward pass thwarted a possible record-breaking fifth try just before full time.
Titans front rower Luke Bailey laid the platform early with a try in the 12th minute. The Cowboys struck back through Ben Harris but the Titans took full advantage of their 60% possession to lay on three more tries. The Cowboys however, kept in touch when halfback Johnathan Thurston, a late inclusion in the match, scored just before the break.
At half time, the Titans held a 22-12 lead.
The Gold Coast extended their lead in the second half and effectively put the match beyond doubt when they posted s 20 point lead in the 62nd minute.
The Cowboys still had one try in them with Thurston once again stepping up. But the Titans had the final say with an Atkins try in the 75th minute.
In what was a fast paced match, Cowboys forward Luke O'Donnell will come under the scrutiny of the match review committee after being placed in report for a high tackle in the 63rd minute.
Scorers Gold Coast Titans (36) Tries: Luke Bailey, Jordan Atkins (4), Anthony Laffranchi Goals: Scott Prince (6/8) North Queensland Cowboys (18) Tries: Ben Harris, Johnathan Thurston (2) Goals: Johnathan Thurston (3/3)
Live Commentary Huge crowd of 27,000 packing into the brand new home ground of the Titans, the first ever NRL premiership match at Skilled Park in Robina. For the Cowboys, the big news is that previously injured halfback Johnathan Thurston is going to play, wearing jersey number 25. Both Gold Coast and North Queensland players getting ready to come onto the field... Players on the field, Titans get a huge roar! Great atmosphere on the Gold Coast! Perfect conditions albeit a slightly warm night. Referee Shayne Hayne blows his whistle and Matty Bowen kicks off for the Cowboys!
2 min: The Titans applying all the early pressure. An ordinary high kick on the last tackle from Scott Prince sees the Cowboys off the hook.
5 min: HELD UP! Ashley Graham from the Cowboys forcing his way over the goal line but held up by a desperate Titans' defence.
12 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Luke Bailey scores for the Titans. Follows some great attacking raids from the home side, only thwarted by a head-on tackle from Bowen. Titans grubber into the in-goal to get a repeat set. Bailey takes a hit up from 20m out and barges over. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful 15m in from touch. Gold Coast Titans 6-0
16 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Ben Harris scores out wide for the Cowboys. Follows a simple combination from Thurston and Bowen in the backline after a hit up from forward Luke O'Donnell who drew the defence in. Sideline conversion from Thurston is an absolute ripper. 6 all
20 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Debutant winger Jordan Atkins scores 10m in from touch following some champagne footy from the Titans beginning on half way. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 12-6
24 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Aktins gets his double with a sensational take following a high cross-field kick from Prince. Atkins somehow managing to get the ball down inside the sideline despite attention from the cover defence, touching down with a blade of grass to spare. Video ref giving benefit of the doubt. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince unsuccessful. Gold Coast Titans 16-6
33 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Anthony Laffranchi scores after Prince delivers the final pass from close range. Follows some easy yards close to the ruck. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 22-6
38 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Thurston gets a try for the Cowboys just before half time. Follows a close call just moments earlier with the Cowboys falling short of the line following video ref scrutiny. The Cowboys then went through the hands with Thurston crashing over 10m in from touch. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. Gold Coast Titans 22-12
Halftime: Titans 22-12 The Titans have had plenty of possession (60%) and managed to dominate the first half. Cowboys not out of it it yet and the try late in the first half has kept them in the hunt.
Second half underway...
42 min: Titans start the second half on fire with winger Jordan Atkins coming infield and making a huge bust up the middle of the park from half way.
50 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Atkins gets a hat trick! The rookie winger takes an inside pass to race away unopposed. Followed up by a magnificent sideline conversion from Prince. Gold Coast Titans 30-12
63 min: Luke O'Donnell (Cowboys) ON REPORT for a high tackle on Daniel Conn.
69 min: Cowboys come close out wide through Ty Williams before the Titans cover defence forces him into touch.
72 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Thurston gets a double, dummying his way pass would-be defenders to score 15m in from touch. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. Gold Coast Titans 32-18
75 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Jordan Atkins has lifted the roof with his fourth try on debut. Atkins on the tail-end of simple backline movement with the ref checking with the video for possible obstruction. The try is good... and Arkins is the toast of the town. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince unsuccessful. Gold Coast Titans 36-18
79 min: Atkins with a big opportunity to score try number five on the bell, but the final pass is a mile forward.
Full time: Titans 36-18 Gold Coast beating the North Queenslanders across the park. The Cowboys will be back with Johnathan Thurston and Matty Bowen showing plenty of class, although the forwards have some work to do with their defence close to the ruck. Standouts for the Titans include front rower Luke Bailey who played most if not all of the match and Anthony Laffranchi who took on a big workload as well. In the backs its hard to ignore Jordan Atkins with his record equalling four tries on debut. Scott Prince also played a tremendous match in the halves.