MATCH WINNER: Gold Coast Titans halfback Ash Taylor has been a surprise packet since replacing the injured Kane Elgey.
MATCH WINNER: Gold Coast Titans halfback Ash Taylor has been a surprise packet since replacing the injured Kane Elgey. Matt Roberts

Taylor’s helping Titans stitch up finals berth

One-time wooden spoon fancies Gold Coast hit the road to Darwin this week looking to build on an impressive three-game winning streak that has carried the Titans into the NRL’s top eight halfway through the season.

Few “experts” would have expected the Titans to be so highly placed turning into the second half of the campaign, especially after some injuries to key players.

But a fourth successive win against a mentally battered Parramatta at Darwin’s T10 Stadium on Saturday in the second game of the NRL’s longest road double could see them pushing for a top four spot – especially if the in-form Raiders lose to Brisbane, which needs to snap a three-game losing streak which continued against the Warriors at the weekend.

Young Titans halfback Ash Taylor, released by Brisbane this season and slotted into the Gold Coast side as a replacement for injured No.7 Kane Elgey (knee), was one of the heroes of the Gold Coast’s dramatic 29-28 golden-point win over South Sydney in Perth on Sunday.

Displaying maturity beyond his years, the 21-year-old English-born halfback landed the match-winning field goal minutes after a gutted Rabbitohs thought they had staged a miraculous comeback from 18-0 to

win when Adam Reynolds’ kick crept over the crossbar only to have the bunker

rule Titans forward Ryan James was obstructed in the play.

Like every Titans player, Taylor said he felt shattered when he thought Reynolds’ field goal, which deflected off a teammate, had won the game.

But the youngster, who was outstanding for Brisbane’s U-20s last season and who has overcome a string of injuries, including a badly fractured thumb that required surgery, said he “just kept believing” after missing two previous field goal shots to win the game.

“I just asked the boys to get as far down the field as possible,” he said.

“There was a lot of pressure on me, but I just kicked the ball like I do at training every week and fortunately it went over.

“I practise at training every day. If you miss one you have to have belief you will rectify with the next one.”

Taylor’s 40-20 kick in the first half also set up a crucial try and further underlined his potential.

Meanwhile, Brisbane winger Corey Oates can’t wait to play his second Origin game at Suncorp Stadium after the experience of a lifetime in Sydney last week when he debuted in the 6-4 win.

Oates was spared the trip to New Zealand on the weekend after pulling up pretty sore after an Origin game dominated by some brutal defence.

“Playing my first game was an honour, but playing at home will be even better with the Queensland fans behind us,” he said.



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