TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 28: Titans coach Justin Holbrook looks on during a media interview before the start of the round three NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Gold Coast Titans at QCB Stadium on March 28, 2021, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Despite tethering himself tighter than his Round 1 suggestion of lopsided refereeing, Gold Coast Titans head coach Justin Holbrook has again highlighted the adjudicators following his side's narrow 24-18 loss at Brookvale on Saturday.

While Manly created their winning margin in the dying minutes thanks to a disallowed try to the visitors, it was a first-half call that had Holbrook vexed.

Following a Daly Cherry-Evans kick into the in-goal area in the 12th minute of the contest between the pair of 2021 finalists, Sea Eagles forward Haumole Olakau'atu powered through to claim the host's opening try.

But although referee Todd Smith was content to award the points to the second-rower, Holbrook remained unconvinced of the grounding.

"I thought he lost it, grounded it with his torso... he definitely lost it," Holbrook was quoted by Wide World of Sports in his post-game press conference.

"Well I thought he did.

"It looked like a certain try, by the way. I'm not saying it was a miracle that it was awarded. It looked like a certain try.

"But when you watch it back, it comes out of his arms and then he grounds it."

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Having entered the clash with just one win in their past three outings, the thinning confidence of Holbrook's charges was knocked early, and despite winning the second half after conceding 24 points to two in the opening stanza, it was too little, too late for the Titans.

"I thought we dodged a bullet and it was a little wake-up call, but it wasn't, and we never recovered," Holbrook said of the contentious Olakau'atu try.

Although content to call the adjudicators into question for the second time in just six weeks, it remains unlikely that the former St Helens' boss will be placed under as much scrutiny after his post-match sound-off in Round 1.

After going down to the Eels at CommBank Stadium by just four points in a clash that produced a total of 60, Holbrook howled at the inequity of refereeing when it came to penalty counts.

Currently sitting on the ladder's 10th rung ahead of the completion of Round 6, Holbrook's youthful collective has leaked an average of 22 points each week, whilst only claiming a pair of wins by a mean of two points on each occasion.

And while clashes against the Cowboys and Dragons across the next month will provide fodder for victory, fixtures against the Panthers and Roosters will act as further proof of whether the Parkwood club are genuine contenders ahead of the Origin speedbump.

Gold Coast's Round 7 match-up against North Queensland is currently scheduled for a 5:30pm AEST time start at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday, April 23.