Titans hold off Warriors in exciting clash
For the second week in a row the Titans have stormed home in the final 20 minutes to secure victory, surviving a late Warriors comeback to win 32-28 on Saturday.
The Gold Coast didn't lead the match until the 51st minute but did enough to record their first win over the New Zealand side in five seasons.
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A double to in-demand halfback Kane Elgey did much of the damage, while a standout effort from Ryan James on both sides of the ball was another feature of the win at Mt Smart Stadium.
The loss of second-rower Ryan Hoffman to a head knock on 46 minutes started the downward spiral for the Warriors, who now have just three wins from their first eight games this season.
Heading into the Anzac Day clash the Warriors and Titans had made more errors than any other side in the Telstra Premiership, and on the visitors' very first set James Roberts came up with a spill which led to David Fusitu'a's opening try.
Shaun Johnson converted from out wide for an early 6-0 lead.
The topsy-turvy nature of the match saw the Titans square up through Elgey, before Ben Matulino and Anthony Don took it out to 12-12.
Nathan Friend broke the stalemate minutes after entering the field, accelerating through a gap at dummy half and finding Jonathan Wright in support for an easy try next to the posts.
Trailing 18-12 at the break, the Gold Coast's 24 missed tackles had been the main difference through the first period.
Warriors fullback Tuimoala Lolohea saved a certain try just minutes into the second stanza when he bundled a flying David Mead into touch in a one-on-one effort metres from the line.
If the defensive effort was outstanding on that occasion it was abysmal minutes later, as both the right and left edges of the Warriors produced soft efforts to allow the Titans their first lead of the game.
First the New Zealanders failed to advance on a Kierran Moseley dummy-half sneak, which ended in an uncontested try, before the Titans won an aerial contest and shifted swiftly to the right for Roberts to score.
With Sezer unable to convert either effort the Titans led 20-18 with half an hour remaining.
After Elgey collected his double and James strolled through untouched the Titans had assumed control of the game at 32-18.
The visitors did have to endure a late scare however, as the Warriors forced several repeat sets in the final seven minutes to score twice and reduce the final margin to 32-28.
Titans coach Neil Henry praised his side's performance against one of the league's most dangerous teams.
"It was a bit nervous at the back end when they got some quick tries, and the boys had to hang on. I think we started the second half well, we were a bit loose defensively in the first half and probably underestimated the wind advantage too," Henry said.
"It was a pretty brave performance, there were parts of the second half where we defended our line really well.
"We sort of kicked away but they are not a side you can allow to have the ball."
The Test hopes of Greg Bird might sit in the hands of the NRL judiciary this week after the second-rower was placed on report for a high shot on Ryan Hoffman, while the Warriors look set to be without Fusitu'a for next week's trip to Cronulla after he was taken from the field on a stretcher following a heavy tackle.
Titans 32 (Elgey 2, Don, Moseley, Roberts, James tries; Sezer x4 goals) def. Warriors 26 (Fusitu'a, Matulino, Wright, Kata, Thompson tries; Johnson 4 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium. Crowd: 15,102.