Titans break records, beating NZ 36-24

Gold Coast Titans NRL Round 7 2008The Gold Coast Titans continue to prove their NRL winning ways aren’t just based on good luck, with the newest Rugby League franchise recording a club record 5th NRL win on the trot as they remain atop the NRL ladder after 7 rounds in 2008.

The win 36-24 over the Warriors at Skilled Park was made even more remarkable considering that the club remains without prominent prop Luke Bailey. With such a strong home base, a good batch of young talent mixed with experienced stars – the Titans are looking to have the ideal nucleus for a genuine premiership assault. With their current start to the season, they are covering well should they hit injury problems mid-season – as they do have a good stack of points in the bank now.

The Titans, in control for most of the afternoon, ran in six tries converted by half-back Scott Prince who turned in another dominant performance as the home side claimed their fifth consecutive victim at their new Robina fortress.

The contest was all but over after 30 minutes, when the Titans led 24-6 after full-back Preston Campbell produced some magic to score a dazzling 40-metre solo try. Campbell sliced through a yawning gap before side-stepping past three confused Warriors defenders for the try of the match.

Campbell almost scored again just before half-time, but he was dragged down two metres short following another blistering run.

Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei scored off a great cut-out pass from five-eighth Michael Witt to narrow the margin to 24-12 and give the vistors some hope, but that was as close as they would get.

Versatile Gold Coast forward Anthony Laffranchi said after the match that the Titans were starting to resemble the Wests Tigers premiership winning team of 2005.

The combination of Prince and Campbell, in particular, had Laffranchi comparing the side with the surprise title winners from three years ago.

“I spoke to Princey about it earlier in the year and it’s kind of got that feeling about it,” said Laffranchi, who played with Prince at the Wests Tigers in their premiership year.

“Princey is definitely in that mood and form (from 2005). He may even be better. He lifts everyone around him and blokes all know their roles. He’s a real class act. You just run where he wants you to be and, if he he gives it to you, there’s always an opportunity because defenders hang off him.”

While Campbell’s exhilarating attack invites comparisons with lightweight Tigers full-back Brett Hodgson, Laffranchi couldn’t help but talk up the similarly underrated forward pack.

“The quality of forwards we’ve got in Brad Meyers, Michael Hodgson, Mark Minichiello and even Nathan Friend and the blokes off the bench, we’re all working hard for each other,” Laffranchi said after grabbing his fourth try of the season.

The Titans, who lost both games to the Warriors last season, reproduced the hot start with which they stunned Brisbane last weekend, rushing to a 12-0 lead through converted tries from five-eighth Ashley Harrison and winger Ben Jeffery.

Warriors five-eighth Michael Witt did his best with two tries and four goals for a personal tally of 16 points, but the visitors were forced into playing catch-up football.

“We’re just gifting too many points early against teams that make you pay,” Warriors coach Ivan Cleary said.

“I thought we showed a lot of fight to get back in the game and still be in the game up until their last try.”

Titans coach John Cartwright admitted that he had been concerned about taking on the Warriors.

“They’re the type of side that troubled us last year and they gave us two touch ups,” he said.

“They’re pretty big and physical and we struggled against those sides … I was really keen to see how we aimed up physically, and we did.”

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