Foran injured as Warriors outclass Titans
The Warriors may have seen their finals hopes come and go in the blink of an eye after a dominant 34-12 win over the Titans on Saturday was soured by a leg injury to star five-eighth Kieran Foran 16 minutes from full-time at Cbus Super Stadium.
With showers regularly lashing the playing field the visitors continued their love affair with the Gold Coast with a win built on the back of a power game that the Titans struggled to contain for the entire 80 minutes, the home side finishing the game with only 12 players on the field for the final five minutes.
A Warriors roster overflowing with size and skill finally brought both elements to the table to maintain touch with the top eight and record their 13th win in their past 14 meetings with Gold Coast while the Titans were beaten out of the blocks and never recovered, Ryan Hoffman sealing the result with the first successful kick at goal in his 300-game career.
Titans prop Jarrod Wallace could face an anxious wait after he appeared to shoulder charge Blake Ayshford in the final seconds of the first half, a charge from the match review committee almost certainly ruling him out of a potential Origin debut for Queensland in Game Two.
If the result and Wallace's indiscretion weren't hard enough to take the Titans' horror season of injuries claimed two further casualties with Kane Elgey (suspected dislocated shoulder) and Konrad Hurrell (ankle) both forced to come from the field in the final 11 minutes.
But the immediate concern for the Warriors will be the fitness of Foran who had to be carried from the field in the 64th minute with an injury to his left leg after tormenting the Titans defence with his direct running.
Titans youngster Morgan Boyle was shifted to the right edge prior to kick-off and Foran attacked him at every opportunity, creating the space for Ryan Hoffman to score in his 300th game after 10 minutes and finding winger Ken Maumalo in space late in the half as the Warriors went to the break with a decisive 24-4 lead.
Back at fullback for the first time in a month, Jarryd Hayne attempted to inject some life into the Titans offering with a solo effort five minutes into the second half but that would be as close as they would come, the Warriors closing it out with Ayshford's second try of the season 13 minutes from full-time.
Despite the Warriors dominating early territory it was the Titans who scored first through some enterprising play down the left-hand side. After an audacious offload on his own try-line to start his afternoon, Hayne attacked the Warriors down the short side and found Joe Greenwood in support, the Englishman freeing his arms enough to offload to Elgey who kept the Warriors defence at bay long enough to reach the try-line wide out and dive over.
Although they fell behind on the scoreboard after five minutes the Warriors were gifted momentum back through an Ash Taylor kick that went out on the full and then a penalty against Wallace in the ruck.
They wasted little time in hitting back, Foran playing out the back to Shaun Johnson who caught Boyle out of position to put Hoffman across for the 70th try of his career.
With the Warriors in complete control of the contest the Titans dodged a David Fusitu'a-sized bullet in the 23rd minute when the big winger failed to regather a Foran cross-field kick but the visitors scored three times in the space of six minutes late in the first half to take a stranglehold of the result and record their sixth win of the season ahead of their first bye next weekend.
Warriors 34 (Ryan Hoffman, Blake Ayshford, Ken Maumalo, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Blake Ayshford, Ata Hingano tries; Issac Luke 4, Hoffman goals) def. Gold Coast Titans 12 (Kane Elgey, Jarryd Hayne, Dale Copley tries) at Cbus Super Stadium. Half-time: Warriors 24-4. Crowd: 14,067.