Warriors thrill crowd with win over Titans
Auckland Nines "home" team the Warriors sent the packed crowd into raptures with an attacking 17-10 win over an impressive Titans outfit in arguably the match of the tournament so far.
After a few near misses for the Warriors early on, Ryan Hoffman scored a strong solo try, shrugging off several defenders at the line to score in his club debut.
Crowd favourite Shaun Johnson had his radar working early with a good conversion from out wide.
After having been stuck inside their own end for most of the first half, the Titans then scored with their first possession inside the Warriors' half as another Hoffman scored on club debut, with new Titans fullback Josh finishing off a slick backline movement to lock it up at 6-all.
There were some near misses and some end-to-end attacking football from both sides before Johnson helped break the deadlock right on half-time, producing a deft pass to Solomone Kata who barrelled through the a lone defender to score in the bonus zone.
There was some absolutely brilliant work from new Titans hooker Kierran Mosely straight after the break when he dashed out of dummy half and put in a crafty short kick allowing Aidan Sezer to score and close the gap to 13-10, which should have been 13-12 if only Sezer hadn't crashed the attempted conversion into the upright from in front.
The Titans defended well against some dazzling play from the Warriors but after being forced into a goal line drop out by a perfect Johnson kick they cracked when Tui Lolohea finished off an overlap movement to make it a certain victory to the Warriors.
The competition favourites weren't quite at their slick best, but Warriors utility Ben Henry said his team's defensive commitment got them over the line.
"I think defence won us that game, we shot ourselves in the foot a few times with turnovers, and possession is the big thing in this game," Henry said.
"We were working hard for each other on defence and it was just detail errors which let us down. There is still plenty to work on, but I think holding a team to two tries is pretty good."
Titans playmaker Daniel Mortimer was disappointed with the result but thrilled to get the chance to take on the Warriors in front of a huge Auckland crowd.
"Playing against the Warriors and that crowd was amazing," Mortimer said. "When we saw we had the first game against the Warriors everyone was excited, we knew it would be tough but walking out to that crowd is pretty exciting and a great way to start the year."