There were no winners in Thursday night’s clash between the Titans and Tigers until the final minute, which twisted Wests’ knife.
The Gold Coast Titans have pulled a rabbit from the hat to deny the Wests Tigers in a game rugby league fans have absolutely savaged.
At halftime both sides had gone close but all the sides could offer were a penalty goal each and it wasn’t until the 67th minute that a penalty goal kicked the Tigers ahead 4-2 before a second penalty goal to go 6-2 up.
However, the twist came in the final minute of the game when a Titans bomb hit the post, before bouncing to rookie Jock Madden, who had the ball knocked out of his hands, landed on it with his hip before the ball skewed out and was grounded by AJ Brimson.
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It was 60 seconds from the first tryless match since round 12 1993 when Canterbury Bulldogs beat the Illawarra Steelers 4-2.
It was a clash between two of the less glamorous clubs in the NRL as the Wests Tigers firm into wooden spoon favouritism while the Titans were coming off a capitulation after giving up a 22-0 lead to the Raiders to lose 24-22.
Labelled a must-win match for the Tigers ahead of a tough road ahead against the Sharks, Eels and Rabbitohs, the performance will do little to keep the wolves at bay for another week.
“That is heartbreaking for the Tigers,” Greg Alexander said on Fox League, while Dan Ginnane said: “You cannot write a more devastating script for the Tigers”.
“Poor old Wests Tigers, oh my goodness,” Ginnane added at full-time.
Early in the match, it looked as though the Tigers had been dudded after referee Grant Atkins didn’t send an early call to the bunker.
On the last tackle, the Tigers went down the left side and Kelma Tuilagi put in a grubber, which was knocked on by the Titans’ Corey Thompson, regathered by Tuilaga and saw Oliver Gildart stroll to the line.
But Atkins ruled it was a “double knock on, touched in flight”. And gave the ball back to the Tigers.
He said it hit a Tigers hand in flight and went forward, despite the ability to send it up to the bunker and check his hypothesis.
Ginnane said: “I hope he’s right after last week.”
It appeared the pass off the ground from Tuilagi was touched by winger Ken Maumalo before Gildart caught the ball, which Atkins called out.
“Now they’re saying that came off Maumalo?” Ginnane said.
Alexander replied: “No I don’t think it did.”
“This is extraordinary,” Ginnane added.
“I think that was a Titans hand that got a touch to that ball,” Alexander finished.
“Did you see an error from the Tigers in that? An illegal error?” Ginnane asked.
However, it appears the confusion came from just two angles being used — one from above and another which didn’t show Maumalo clearly.
The Titans weren’t much better as Corey Thompson looked almost destined to score, but made a meal of it, unable to gather the pass which would have been the simplest of tries.
All the way through the commentators were trying to make it interesting.
“There are great games and not so great games and there are memorable games — Brandy (Alexander) we’re not going to forget this game in a hurry,” Ginnane said after yet another mistake.
“Mightn’t be the upper echelon of greatness in 2022 but it’s 2-all 65 minutes in.”
Early in the second half, Alexander said the Titans’ passing had been “horrible” while the Tigers just didn’t seem to be able to get any momentum.
And social media was blown away by the standard of the match.
Former sports reporter Ray Gatt tweeted: “Tigers struggling in attack. Just don’t have that X factor.”
Former Sri Lanka cricketer and Tigers fan Russel Arnold said: “What the h️ell. This is shocking #NRLTitansTigers An awful game and an even worse result”
Fox Sports’ Cody Kaye wrote: “Almost impressive how ugly this is”, to which Code Sports’ Brendan Bradford added: “I didn’t think it could get worse than Tigers-Warriors last week, but here we are”. Kaye responded: “I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”
AAP’s Scott Bailey wrote: “For those watching on Fox, this game will move to the Comedy Channel at halftime on 114.” He also wrote: “I’d like to personally congratulate Wests Tigers v North Queensland from Rd 11, 2015 at Campbelltown for no longer being the worst NRL game this century” and “Rugby league was not the winner.”
AAP’s Ed Jackson added: “For everything that has been eye-bleedingly bad in this game, Marzhew’s carries out of defence have been pretty damn good. It’s not the same as To’o for the Panthers but it has a similar effect, gets post-contact metres all the time.”
Nine News Gold Coast’s Dominique Loudon was hoping for “a time machine to get to the end of this game.”
SMH’s James Polson contributed: “This is that rare game that delivers everything it promised.”
Sports reporter Bernie Coen wrote: “This is a painful game of rugby league. I’d prefer to spend an hour listening to @9_Moley gibber than sit through this. It’s capital letters punishment.”
Newscorp’s Rob Sutherland tweeted: “What’s the opposite of champagne football? What a crap game.”