In just his second game, Ashley Taylor has outpointed NSW No.7 Trent Hodkinson to help steer Gold Coast Titans to a 30-12 NRL season-opening win over Newcastle on Sunday night.
Taylor set up two tries and almost scored one himself to win the battle of the halves against Newcastle’s big name signing Hodkinson in front of 8313 fans at a rain hit Gold Coast.
Titans prop Agnatius Paasi was also inspirational, picking up where he left off from his star Auckland Nines turn to score a first half try and rack up 167m and four tackle busts.
Remarkably, former Bronco Taylor only had 29 minutes of first grade experience before running out with new halves partner, ex-Knight Tyrone Roberts.
Due some good fortune, the Titans made their own luck as they revelled in the wet, piling on five tries to three.
In a match supposed to provide a glimpse of the 2016 wooden spoon contenders, the Titans looked a class above the youngest Knights team in their club history.
Newcastle fielded a side with seven new faces including five debutants.
The Knights lost almost 1,200 NRL games worth of experience including captain Kurt Gidley since collecting 2015 wooden spoon.
Yet remarkably the Gold Coast entered the match as the bookies’ wooden spoon favourites with nine new faces in their side including two debutants.
However, the Titans did their best to reverse their rotten luck with a drought breaking win.
The Titans had lost four of their past five opening matches at home.
And the last time they had beaten the Knights on the Gold Coast was 2009.
The Titans led 12-6 at halftime before a double by winger Anthony Don and Zeb Taia’s try off a Taylor kick blew the score out to 28-6 by the 53rd minute.
Taylor’s only blight was when he was stripped by Korbin Sims in a one on one tackle off a kick re-start after Paasi crashed over in the 20th minute.
Knights debutant Pat Mata’utia crashed over in the 23rd minute.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Pauli Pauli was placed on report for a late shot on Leivaha Pulu in the 79th minute.