Warriors v Titans Review
On a fine surface at Mt Smart Stadium, the Titans were too good for another disappointing Warriors outfit, going on to record a deserved victory.
John Cartwright will be pleased with his team's execution at a ground that's not an easy place for visiting teams to play.
But this year's Warriors, while not short on ticker, lack the cattle to finish off their promising platforms.
The Game Swung When… In the 63rd minute, Titans up by four, Scott Prince put up a big bomb that came down on the 10-metre line. Warriors’ winger Patrick Ah Van was ineffectual in his contest for the ball before Mat Rogers got a fist on it and batted it back to Titans' flier Kevin Gordon who ran over uncontested out wide. Prince didn't convert but it was 18-10 with time running out.
Six minutes later, the match-winner: from a scrum 20 metres out, Preston Campbell sent the ball wide to Mat Rogers who beat Lance Hohaia in the centres and carried five-eighth Aaron Heremaia over for a nice four-pointer. Prince converted. Ball game.
Who Was Hot… Prince laid on three try assists, broke six tackles and generally drove most that was good about the Titans’ attack.
Luke Bailey did a mountain of hard work in the middle of the park (21 runs, 203 metres) and impressed with some nice link work with the ball. Anthony Laffranchi was typically involved with 28 tackles and a try while Mark Minichiello (17 runs, 136 metres) and Matthew White (18 runs, 154 metres) were also strong.
Mat Rogers scored a double, broke six tackles and the line twice, while Preston Campbell broke three tackles and had a hand in several good Titans’ offensive outings.
The Warriors were best served by Michael Luck who was typically industrious in defence with 46 tackles, Manu Vatuvei who scored two fine tries and caught the ball well, and tyro fullback Kevin Locke who ran with menace from the back and looked dangerous on his pins.
Who Was Not... Winger Ah Van came up with three errors – too many for one man. And centres Hohaia and Joel Moon came up with seven missed tackles between them.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… A few years ago Vatuvei was worse under the bomb than Wile E. Coyote. In this game, in the 54th minute, the big unit flew high above the pack and came down with a fine four-pointer.
With the game dead, Vatuvei flew again to collect a Warriors’ drop-out with more hang-time than a hang-glider above a volcano.
Bad Boys… None.
Refs Watch… Fine game from officials Steve Lyons and Alan Shortall. No quibbles.
NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – Luke Bailey (Titans): No-bull footy from big bald Bull; 2 points – Scott Prince (Titans): The usual suspect in all that was good about the Titans' attack; 1 point – Mat Rogers (Titans): Two tries and nice evasion from the evergreen centre.
Titans 30 (M Rogers 2, A Laffranchi, S Prince, K Gordon tries; S Prince 5 goals) def Warriors 14 (M Vatuvei 2 tries; K Locke 3 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium. Crowd: 10,205.