Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
In a game where both sides had everything to lose, the fifth placed Sydney Roosters took on the eighth placed Gold Coast Titans in the first of two elimination finals.
Sydney headed into this game as they have almost every game this season, injury ravaged yet still up for the challenge that lays ahead, while the Gold Coast came in fresh off of a club record 44-0 victory over the New Zealand Warriors that saw them sneak into the top eight and qualify for their first finals series in five years on the final day of the 2021 NRL regular season.
The opening stages of the game really were a feeling out process, with the two sides tentative to get creative and try to open up holes in the opposition defence for the first 20 minutes, with both clubs only able to get points through a penalty goal each, which for the Gold Coast was understandable as Tyrone Peachey was sin binned for 10 minutes during this period.
Some poor goal line edge defence from the Titans then saw Matt Ikuvalu score in the corner for the first try of the game in the 22nd minute.
Following this errors started to creep into the game of both teams, which often resulted in point scoring opportunities blundered and a few created for the opposing side, with the Titans especially getting into great positions to score before coming up with silly errors.
David Fifita also had a try ruled out due to an obstruction call.
Victor Radley would manage to split the Gold Coast defence in the 31st minute and set James Tedesco up for a try that saw the Roosters go up by 12.
— NRL (@NRL) September 11, 2021
Right before half-time the Titans would finally cross the white line for their first try of the game when Peachey put a grubber deep into the ingoal area for Beau Fermor to score, leaving us with a score of 12-6 heading into the sheds.
The Titans had a horror start to the second half as Tino Fa’asuamaleaui would drop the ball, putting the Roosters in a great position to score and they would take advantage, with Daniel Tupou cruising over to score in the corner just two minutes into the half.
However, things would get better for the Gold Coast as mere minutes later Jamal Fogarty would put up a well placed bomb to the corner 20 metres out from the Roosters line which bounced perfectly for Fa’asumaleaui who would go in under the posts to score and make up for his prior mistake.
Matt Ikuvalu would then have a double taken off him due to an obstruction call with just under half an hour to go.
At the 55th minute Brian Kelly would then bust through multiple tackle attempts from Roosters players and glide through under the posts to score for the Titans and tie the game, before some great footwork by Tedesco and then Josh Morris led to the retiring Rooster scoring with 20 to go.
Ten minutes would pass and with the Roosters pinned back on their goal line Ikuvalu would drop the ball into the arms of Jarrod Wallace who then crashed over to score next to the posts, but seven minutes later Sam Walker, who had not long come into the game, kicked the game winning field goal, with the final score 25-24.