Bumper Titans crowd expected for Warriors
Management of the Gold Coast Titans have begun talks with officials at Cbus Super Stadium in anticipation of opening up the southern stand of the ground for only the second time this season when they host the Warriors on Sunday.
A large walk-up crowd that contributed to the 14,918 who turned out for Monday night's clash with the Sharks caught the Titans by surprise with lines of people left waiting to purchase tickets as the game kicked off.
That crowd – the third-biggest Monday night crowd of the season – and the 15,273 who watched the Titans dispose of the Eels 34-14 the week prior represent two of the Titans' three biggest home attendances of the year.
Those figures are set to be dwarfed by the turnout on Sunday with Titans officials encouraging supporters to pre-purchase their tickets as they anticipate busting through the 20,000 mark for just the second time this season.
With a strong Kiwi contingent in south-east Queensland, crowds for Warriors games at the Titans' Robina base have averaged 19,063 since 2008 and with both teams fighting it out for a place in the top eight another bumper crowd is expected for the 2pm kick-off on Sunday.
Parts of the southern stand at Cbus Super Stadium are opened progressively depending on ticket sales and Titans CEO Graham Annesley urged fans of both teams to buy their tickets early so that the stadium can be fully opened up come Sunday.
"The bottom line is that the more people that come, the more of the stadium gets opened and obviously we'd like to see the whole stadium opened," Annesley told NRL.com.
"My plea would be that for everyone who has been caught up in the approach to the finals and the prospects of us qualifying for the first time for quite a long time then they should get along and support the team.
"That was just a magnificent turn up [against the Sharks]. Monday nights are traditionally hard to get people to come and to have a crowd like that took us all a bit by surprise to be honest."
For all but the Broncos game in Round 5 Titans players have had to run towards empty seats for half of their 10 home games to date and they are desperate to see all parts of the stadium utilised on Sunday.
Josh Hoffman spoke of the lift that the noise of the crowd gave the Titans players in the dying stages against the Sharks and is hoping for an even larger crowd in what shapes as a must-win game for both teams.
"It would be awesome, especially if we get a good crowd like that," Hoffman said of the prospect of the southern stand being open.
"Having that southern stand open at 2pm on a great day, fast track, fast footy, I urge all the Titans fans to get out there and fill that southern stand because it's going to be a good game on Sunday and we really need them there.
"When you're putting in a good effort and the team's playing good footy the fans turn up and it helps the boys out a lot, especially in games like [Monday night].
"Those tough, tight ones you really need those fans that can get you going in those dying seconds."
Five-eighth Tyrone Roberts is in doubt to face the Warriors due to a knee injury but said that the prospect of the stadium being opened to its full extent shows how far they have come as a club when they had less than 10,000 fans for their first two home games of the year.
"You can see from the start of the season when we couldn't fill the ends of the stadium and now there's one open. We've just got to get the other one open now," Roberts said.
"It's a good vibe, it's what we need and it's what the fans want. As players, we can hear the crowd growing once we get in front and it's good to see that and we've just got to keep doing it.
"It's a goal for the club. We want to get as many fans as we can."
The winning run of the Sharks continued significantly to the Monday night crowd as Cronulla fans showed up en masse but as the Titans gathered momentum in the second half the home fans began to find their voice.
Captain Ryan James said the last time he had heard a Titans chant was back in his debut season in 2010 and Annesley urged all Gold Coast fans to get out and match what will be a strong Warriors contingent on Sunday.
"We would love to have more Titans fans there than opposition fans at any of our games and last night we saw some real commitment and vocal focus from our fans," said Annesley, who is also hopeful of having the southern stand open for the Round 25 clash with the Panthers.
"They were chanting and going head-to-head with the Sharks fans in the stadium so people are really starting to get excited about the way the team's performing."