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NRLW Grand Final: Knights' title defence on track after overcoming Broncos in cliffhanger as Titans clinch slice of history

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24th September, 2023
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Gold Coast have stunned the Sydney Roosters 12-0 to reach the NRLW decider against Newcastle and lock in the city’s first major grand final appearance in any code.

After defending premiers Newcastle beat Brisbane 30-24 in the first semi-final, the Titans held on to win a low-scoring affair against a bruised and battered Roosters in the second.

Brittany Breayley-Nati scored the Titans’ sole try of the first half when she dated out of dummy-half, before Rilee Jorgensen, sent over a crucial penalty goal after the break.

Gold Coast dominated ball and territory in the second half, putting the game beyond doubt when Evania Pelite sent winger Destiny Mino-Sinapati over late.

The defeat leaves the Roosters out in the semi-final stage in back-to-back years, after topping the ladder in 2022 and finishing second this season.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Caitlan Johnston of the Knights celebrates a try during the NRLW Semi Final match between Newcastle Knights and Brisbane Broncos at McDonald Jones Stadium, on September 24, 2023, in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Scott Gardiner/Getty Images)

Caitlan Johnston celebrates. (Photo by Scott Gardiner/Getty Images)

The Tricolours have been hurt by injuries this year, with Jessica Sergis missing the semi-final with a finger issue and fullback Corban Baxter spending time off the field with an ankle problem on Sunday before moving to centre.

But with close to the league’s best roster, they will feel they have underachieved not to make the decider.

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The Titans’ win gives them the chance to end the city’ sporting curse, with no team from the glamour strip having previously reached a national top-grade final of any major sporting code.

To claim the club’s first men’s or women’s premiership, the Titans must find a way to shut down Knights fullback Tamika Upton at Accor Stadium next Sunday.

The superstar No.1 scored one try and set up two others in the Knights’ win over Brisbane on Sunday, running 202 metres and busting 12 tackles in the process.

She had a hand in two early tries as the minor premiers sprinted out to an 18-0 lead after 18 minutes, before they were forced to withstand a second-half Brisbane comeback.

In front of a record crowd of 12,689 people in Newcastle, Brisbane worked their way back into the match at 18-10 after tries to Shenae Ciesiolka and Chelsea Lenarduzzi either side of the halftime.

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Upton briefly halted the comeback with a try of her own, but Brisbane then got the score back to 24-18 with nine minutes to play.

Newcastle bench forward Tiana Davison gave the Knights breathing room with a 12-point lead late, before they held on for the last three minutes after Brisbane winger Lauren Dam scored to make it 30-24 late.

Teenage half Jesse Southwell also nailed five-from-five with the boot for the Knights, with kicking proving the difference as both sides finished with five tries.

© AAP

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