Art Imitating Life

In many ways, our sole encounter with the Gold Coast Titans in 2015 was a case of art imitating life. With our backs against the wall and the NRL-backed enemy looking to finish off the Grand Old Club, South Sydney held strong and ground out a memorable - albeit hard-to-watch - 22-16 victory.

Before a ball had been kicked in the 2015 season, the Gold Coast Titans 'Consortium', who had aggressively fought for their inclusion in the competition, placed the club into voluntary administration.

As Mark Courtney, author of the Book of Feuds, best explains it:

"Their license was transferred to the NRL and the franchise was kept alive with money from the governing body," writes Courtney.

"When the Titans faced their darkest hour as a club the NRL jumped to save them - a very unfamiliar scenario to many South Sydney Rabbitohs fans who remember specific events circa 1999."

And so the Grand Old Club flew to the Gold Coast to face the (now NRL-owned)Titans and, despite being favourites in the contest, struggled from the first whistle in front of 15,000 rugby league fans.

The men from Redfern were bolstered by the return of Captain Greg Inglis, who would back up only three days after an Origin clash where he was confined to a hospital bed with tonsillitis prior to kick-off.

Former Souths man James Roberts would haunt the Rabbitohs on the Saturday afternoon match - his speed on the edge wreaking havoc for South Sydney defenders.

GI's day would only last until the 55th minute of the contest when a swinging Ryan James arm would knock out the inspirational skipper as he attempted to catch a high ball and rule him out for the rest of the game. The scores were level at 10-all.

Alex Johnston stepped up and earned recognition as the hero of the match - covering at fullback for Inglis, scoring a try and denying Titans lock Lachlan Burr an almost certain try in the 78th minute with a freakish tackle.

Piling more pressure on the men from Redfern, George Burgess was taken from the field late in the match after a head-clash with Titans prop Luke Douglas.

It was a victory representative of the South Sydney 'never-say-die' attitude - holding on for a 22-16 win when things were going against us.

Chris McQueen, Souths second-rower in the encounter, described it as an "ugly win" in a post-match interview.

"They've got a solid side there and on top of that we didn't play to our standard," said McQueen.

"I think in that second half we had something like 65 percent completions. It's hard to be competitive in a game when you're not completing sets.

"Obviously, we weren't happy about how we played at the end of the game but you can definitely take a lot out of those ugly wins I guess.

"We weren't at our best and we still got the points, so we know that when we're at our best I guess we're only going to be better and more competitive."

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Match report first posted on Rabbitohs.com.au on Saturday 30th May, 2015.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have grinded out a 22-16 victory over the Gold Coast Titans this evening (Saturday), overcoming a determined home-side that refused to throw in the towel.

A try-scoring double to Chris Grevsmuhl as well as tries to Greg Inglis and Aaron Gray proved enough to sink the Titans. But the victory didn't come easily, with key Rabbitohs representatives such as Inglis and George Burgess both leaving the field during a crucial period of the match.

The Rabbitohs earned themselves a repeat set inside the first four minutes of play right on the Titans' line following a Titans error. But despite some strong running from the red and green's, the Gold Coast defence held strong to survive.

Another Titans mistake saw the home-side place themselves under yet more pressure with the Rabbitohs attacking strongly. But yet again, the Titans managed to repel the threat.

Incredibly, it would be the home-side who would score first against the run of play after 10 minutes of sustained Rabbitohs pressure – Anthony Don getting outside Aaron Gray to score just inside touch to make it 4-0.

Luke Keary tried to spark something when the half managed to step through the Titans defence on a last tackle play before streaking 30 metres and grubber kicking for the wing of Johnston. The Titans diffused the opportunity at the last second by batting the ball over the dead-ball line just ahead of the flying Johnston.

The Rabbitohs finally hit back in the 22nd minute when an attacking raid from short range saw Luke Keary pass on to Inglis, who brutally bumped off a Titans defender before racing through to score behind the posts. But the on-field referee conferred to the video, sending the try upstairs with 'no-try' the call on the grounds of a possible obstruction. The try would ultimately stand after much deliberation with Luke converting from right in front to take the lead by 6-4.

But despite the Rabbitohs being parked down the Titans's side of half-way the red and green were struggling to score points. Another penalty in front of the sticks saw the red and greens opt to run the ball rather than take the two points. The option would prove fruitless, and by the time the Gold Coast got back into Souths' half, James Roberts scored out wide to re-take the lead with Sezer converting from out wide to make it 10-6 at half-time.

On the resumption, despite a repeat set to the Titans, it was the Rabbitohs who would be first to score in the second stanza when Chris Grevsmuhl hit a John Sutton short-ball hard and scoring to level it up at 10 apiece. Issac Luke's conversion attempt to take the lead hit the upright, leaving the sides all square.

Aaron Gray came within a whisker of scoring moments later when he finished off a Rabbitohs back-line movement. But a desperate Titans defensive effort saw Gray come up just short.
Rabbitohs fans held their collective breath when Inglis stayed down following a failed kick diffusion that saw him hit in the head accidentally by Ryan James. Inglis would not return to the game.

With the scores locked up and Johnston now playing fullback to cover Inglis, Souths stuck to their structures and when given the opportunity on the Titans' line, a set play that involved a rare inside ball from Nathan Brown to a flying Alex Johnston saw the Souths Junior streak in under the sticks. Luke made no mistake this time around with the conversion to make it 16-10.

A Kevin Gordon mistake for the Titans deep in their own half was exactly what the Rabbitohs needed and they took full advantage when Grevsmuhl crashed over for his second of the afternoon. Luke converted to make it 22-10.

But the game was far from over. An Aaron Gray error at the beginning of a seven tackle set gave the Titans immediate use of the ball with six minutes in the match remaining with Anthony Don racing over untouched. Sezer converted to make it 22-16.

Souths desperately tried to get the ball out of their red-zone through George Burgess, but a sickening head-clash with a Titans player saw the Englishman lose the ball in vital field position, gifting the ball to the home-side with three minutes remaining.

The Titans would have stolen the game had it not been for the brilliant defence of Alex Johnston, who managed to knock the ball clean out of the Gold Coast's hands over the try-line to deny the home-side.

The Rabbitohs would ultimately hold on to take the victory by 22-16.

Rabbitohs 22 (Greg Inglis, Chris Grevsmuhl 2, Alex Johnston, tries; Issac Luke 3 goals)
Defeated
Titans 16 (Anthony Don 2, James Roberts, tries; Aidan Sezer 2 goals)

10 min 0-4
23 min 6-4
32 min 6-10
47 min 10-10
60 min 16-10
70 min 22-10
74 min 22-16