THE pressure on coach Nathan Brown is certain to intensify after the Newcastle Knights were humbled 38-14 on Sunday by a Gold Coast team minus their three best forwards.
It was Newcastle's fifth consecutive loss and left them languishing in equal last place, two wins adrift of the top eight after six games.
Already without suspended Queensland Origin prop Jarrod Wallace, the Titans lost Kiwi international Kevin Proctor when he suffered a thigh injury in the warm-up.
Then skipper Ryan James limped from CBus Super Stadium early in the first half after suffering a knee injury.
Those setbacks made little difference as the Titans dominated from the outset to lead 22-0 at half-time.
Titans winger Phillip Sami and five-eighth Tyrone Roberts scored runaway tries after Newcastle fumbles, while centre Brian Kelly strolled through some feeble defence.
Any hopes of Newcastle rallying after the break faded in the 49th minute, when Newcastle wingers Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Edrick Lee combined for a kick-return handling error that gifted a try to Gold Coast flanker Anthony Don.
The Knights finally broke through in the 55th minute with a try by centre Hymel Hunt, and then five minutes later were denied when Connor Watson was ruled by the video referee to have produced a double-movement.
Six minutes later, Knights back-rower Mitch Barnett won the race to ground a Mitchell Pearce grubber kick in-goal, then fullback Kalyn Ponga sliced through in the 65th minute to score his first try of the season.
Roberts, who played 97 NRL games for Newcastle between 2011 and 2015, capped a man-of-the-match display by scoring from his own grubber kick in the 76th minute.
Titans fullback Michael Gordon crossed in the dying seconds. The try, together with his seven goals, gave him a match haul of 18 points.
The loss left Brown with an unenviable record of 16 wins from 78 games since he took the reins at Newcastle in 2016.