Gold Coast have jumped into the NRL top eight after beating Canterbury 28-14 in a thriller on Sunday at cBus Super Stadium.
After a first-half arm wrestle, the Titans dazzled their home crowd of 10,645 with a stretch of three unanswered tries to run away with the game and book their second straight win.
Canberra-bound pivot Aidan Sezer had a huge hand in the result, continuing what must feel like an excruciating farewell season on the tourist strip for Titans fans.
Not only did he kickstart their surge with a brilliant 40-20 just before the halftime buzzer that resulted in a try to Kevin Gordon, he helped set up their next four-pointer and converted four of five attempts in a tireless performance.
Coach Neil Henry described Sezer’s 40-20 as the turning point for the Titans, who are clinging onto eighth spot on the ladder by points differential.
“It was a real boost for us – it had been a bit of a grind until then,” Henry said.
“It was one of those games where you couldn’t really rest in defence, they’re a hard team to contain.
“It’s good to get that one done and in the end be reasonably comfortable at the back end of the game, which is fantastic – but every week’s a new battle.”
Boom youngster James Roberts also celebrated his two-year contract extension with the Titans by scoring two tries to take him to 13 for the season.
But the win came at a cost for the Titans, with their shortage of hookers exacerbated by a medial ligament injury to Kierran Moseley.
With fellow rakes Beau Falloon (wrist) and Matt Srama (ankle) already sidelined, Moseley was the player that the Titans could most ill afford to lose.
“I don’t know how bad it is – he’s in a brace, and he’ll get some scans done,” Henry said.
“I imagine he’ll be out for a few weeks.
“We’ll be looking at the Q-Cup to get another hooker.
“We might have to be creative again.”
The Bulldogs were 10-4 up at one stage after Sam Kasiano rode an offload from Tim Browne to go over just before the half-hour mark.
Canterbury coach Des Hasler said his side “butchered” their chance to win the game with handling mistakes.
“We were just really sloppy with the ball, it’s been an issue for us all year,” Hasler said.
“The game was there for the taking for both sides, they capitalised on our errors we turned up.”
Canterbury’s Corey Thompson had a night to forget, with his two glaring errors under the high ball in the 40th and 59th minutes both punished by tries to Gordon and Josh Hoffman.
The visitors attempted a late comeback with Curtis Rona crossing for his second of the afternoon but it was quickly snuffed out, as Roberts responded in kind and then came off the field to a warm round of applause.