Eels bundled out, Titans into NRLW semis

Murray Wenzel |

Gold Coast have survived some nervous moments to book an NRLW finals berth, while a big Brisbane win over Parramatta saw the defending champions jump to first and the Eels dumped from the top-four.

Semi-final spots were up for grabs at Sunday’s double-header in Brisbane, the Eels ultimately the big losers dropping from third to fifth on points differential and losing star fullback Botille Vette-Welsh to a potentially serious knee injury.

Their 38-4 loss to Brisbane meant the Sydney Roosters jumped them into fourth, while the Titans beat Newcastle 14-10 to clinch third in their maiden campaign.

Minor premiers Brisbane will play the Roosters and the Dragons play the Titans, the winners at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday to play in a Redcliffe grand final the following week.

The Titans needed a win or a loss by less than nine points against the winless Knights, eventually prevailing 14-10 to book their finals berth.

But, trailing 6-0 with 30 minutes to play and their attacks repeatedly snuffed out, the Titans looked out of answers.

Captain Brittany Breayley-Nati delivered though, her short grubberkick popping up for Jessika Elliston’s crucial try.

Winger Hailee-Jay Maunsell flirted with the touchline to score minutes later, only for Knights winger Katelyn Vaha’akolo to respond immediately.

Gold Coast had the final say, Karina Brown crossing as the Knights’ defence was finally spread too thin. 

The Titans would have been staring down a 12-0 scoreline if not for April Ngatupuna.

The forward chased tremendously to pull down a rampaging Phoebe Desmond just short of the line, after the Knights’ prop had broken the line and charged from 45m out.

“They’re those individual moments where we find the energy and turn up, but then don’t find it to support a pass or chase a kick,” Titans coach Jamie Feeney said.

“If we do that next week we’ll make up the numbers, but the four teams who get through, everyone’s shown they can beat everyone.

“It’s great for the game, the fans; my phone’s buzzing telling us how good it was to watch even though I’m losing hair by the day.”

Three-time champions Brisbane, who lost for just the second time last week, needed a 20-point win to jump the Dragons.

Two tries inside six minutes had them on track before the Eels defied Vette-Welsh’s injury to trail 16-4 at the break and remain in the picture.

Brisbane captain Ali Brigginshaw stepped up though, her solo try pushing the hosts 24 points clear before they eventually prevailed 38-4.