Warriors scrape past wounded Titans
A Ryan Hoffman try with two minutes left on the clock sealed a 28-22 victory for the Warriors over the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday afternoon in Auckland.
The Titans dominated the first half to lead 22-12, but failed to score a single point in the second stanza as they battled through another torrid 80 minutes in terms of injuries, which saw them left with only one player on the bench for the final 10 minutes.
Both teams traded four-pointers through the opening quarter at Mt Smart Stadium, with Shaun Johnson and David Fusitu'a crossing for the home side and Dale Copley and Daniel Vidot returning serve down the left for the Titans.
But two tries in the space of three minutes from Kane Elgey saw the Gold Coast take charge in the back end of the half.
The first came after Ash Taylor stood up Sam Lisone to split the line and pass, and the second via a grubber from fullback Tyrone Roberts, giving the visitors a 10-point advantage at half-time after Taylor converted both.
The home side owned early momentum in the second half, enjoying 70 per cent possession through the opening 15 minutes, and scored through captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck directly off a scrum.
With 18 minutes to go five-eighth Kieran Foran capped a dream club debut with a crucial try, receiving the ball from Johnson before dummying and slicing through for a four-pointer from 10 metres out.
Johnson converted to tie scores at 22-all, before both sides muffed attempted field goals in the final five minutes.
But the Warriors would have the last laugh, with Ryan Hoffman charging onto a Johnson ball to break Gold Coast hearts and give the Kiwi franchise their second win of season 2017.
The result wasn't the only negative to come out of the match for the Gold Coast, with Joe Greenwood (concussion) and Nathaniel Peteru (foot) joining Roberts in the causality ward for the already injury-ravaged club.
New Zealand Warriors 28 (Shaun Johnson, David Fusitu'a, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Kieran Foran, Ryan Hoffman tries; Shaun Johnson 4 goals) def. Gold Coast Titans 22 (Kane Elgey 2, Dale Copley, Daniel Vidot tries; Ashley Taylor 3 goals) at Mount Smart Stadium. Half-time: 12-22. Crowd: 10,263.