Rugby league is often described as a game of two halves and that was most certainly the case in this clash yesterday, with the New Zealand Warriors second half blitz overpowering the Gold Coast Titans on the Gold Coast.
It was the perfect half for the Warriors, as they put on a show, showed their clinical nature and their steely resolve in defence.
A three-try romp over a 12-minute period was the icing on the cake for the Warriors and it was halfback Shaun Johnson who was absolutely electric.
He scored two tries, set tries up, made breaks at will and was an absolute handful for an injury-decimated Titans side.
In what was probably the Warriors best game of the season, their mistake-free play overwhelmed the Titans and eventually, they wrestled control of the match and enjoyed total domination.
Attack was not the only thing on the menu, as the defensive prowess of the Warriors in this match proved too much for the Titans to handle.
With the Warriors momentum continuing throughout the game, Titans prop Luke Douglas knows that when a team completes their sets that well and starts sets in good position, stopping them is never going to be easy.
“It just felt like we had no ball and we were coming out of our own end,” said Titans prop Luke Douglas.
“They gave us a lesson in getting repeat sets and they really revved up as we were trying to get out. It was a real uphill battle and they were catching our kicks on the 40 and 50 and going straight into attacking sets so it makes it pretty tough.”
Gold Coast is the home away from home for the Warriors, who had a healthy dose of support at Cbus Super Stadium. It was evident when Titans half Aidan Sezer was converting, and being booed as a result by the Warriors fans.
“It’s pretty special the support we get, it’s probably the only home game the Titans have where they get booed when they run out at the start of the game,” said Warriors captain Simon Mannering.
“There’s that much support for us and we love coming up here to play and to get a result like that tonight is obviously great for the turn-out we get.”
With two Titans debutants in this clash – new recruits Chad Redman and Nene Macdonald – their opening games with the club were ones that they can be proud of.
“The boys were still struggling with first names and getting the calls on our plays but he showed real promise,” Douglas said of his new teammates.
“Just the size of him (Macdonald), he’s a centre/winger and he’s bigger than me. He’s a big boy and showed some real good touches so definitely some good signs from the two new boys.
[Redman] got out of there and did one good kick out of dummy-half and will get better as the weeks go on. A couple of times with different plays come unstuck but it’s all going to improve.”
Player of the Game:
3. Shaun Johnson
2. Nene Macdonald
1. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
Warriors 36 (Shaun Johnson 2, Nathan Friend, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Konrad Hurrell, Bodene Thompson tries; Johnson 6 goals) def. Gold Coast Titans 14 (Josh Hoffman, Lachlan Burr, James Roberts tries; Aidan Sezer 1 goal) at Cbus Super Stadium. Half-time: Titans 10-6. Crowd: 14,132. Holden Cup: Warriors 28-20.