The Vodafone Warriors 2013 NRL campaign had new life breathed into it after a pulsating 24-22 victory over Gold Coast in tonights 24th-round clash at Skilled Park in Robina.


In a compelling contest, the Vodafone Warriors recovered from 6-16 late in the first half to score 18 unanswered points and hold on for a victory which meant everything to their season.


With their 10th win of the year theyre one of four sides on 24 points for now. The Titans are eighth, Penrith ninth, the Vodafone Warriors 10th and Canberra at home to Manly on Sunday 11th. The Vodafone Warriors face the Raiders in their final home game of the regular season at Mount Smart Stadium next Saturday night.


There are so many permutations but victory tonight was the bare minimum if the Vodafone Warriors were to remain in contention for a finals spot.


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Their opening to the contest couldnt have been much worse as they gifted possession and position after kicking out on the full.


The Titans gleefully accepted the invitation, an Albert Kelly kick providing a try for prop Ryan James. Aidan Sezers conversion gave the Gold Coast a 6-0 lead after just three minutes.


The Vodafone Warriors organised a response fairly swiftly, getting the ball wide for centre Dane Nielsen to score his second try of the season. Shaun Johnsons conversion from the sideline was superb to lock it up at 6-6.


All too soon the Titans restored their six-point advantage, keeping the ball in hand on the last tackle for James to score a second try which Sezer again converted.


Worse was to follow in the shape of a debatable refereeing decision counting against the Vodafone Warriors on attack then exacerbated by an error on defence leading to a try to the Titans.


Fullback Kevin Locke had contested an attacking bomb but was somehow penalised for taking his opposite David Mead out; the consensus was that it was an extremely harsh call.


The Titans went downfield, pumped up a high kick and came up with a Brad Takairangi try after Manu Vatuvei spilled the ball. Sezers conversion failed leaving Gold Coast 16-6 ahead close to halftime.


A measure of justice followed. If the Titans imagined they would go to the break 10 points ahead courtesy of Takairangis try they were left stunned in the dying moments as the Vodafone Warriors engineered a try with little room in which to move. Johnson ghosted right, found Locke who brilliantly flicked the ball on to Jerome Ropati centimetres inside the touchline. He deftly stepped down the line to score in just his third match of the season. Johnson couldnt convert from wide out, leaving the Vodafone Warriors only six points adrift at halftime.


The early stages of the second spell favoured the Vodafone Warriors as they found their groove.


Just five minutes into the half centre Konrad Hurrell scored one of the best tries of the season using his potent mix of power and pace on a brilliant long-range charge for his 10th try in his last 11 matches (his 13th of the season). Johnsons conversion had the contest level at 16-16 and there was a definite shift in momentum, if gradually as the grind went on.


Finally in the 62nd minute the break came with a fantastic try. Simon Mannering dented the line, offloading to the supporting Nathan Friend who found the magical Johnson on his right shoulder. He sized up the situation perfectly, giving Ropati a saloon passage down the right side for his second try of the night, Johnson nailing the conversion to give his side the lead for the first time in the match at 22-16.


Johnson took the lead out to what would prove to be a vital eight-point margin.

The Vodafone Warriors clung to the advantage until their line was breached in the 77th minute via an Anthony Dom try and a Sezer conversion from well out, leaving it 22-24.


From the restart set the Titans were handed a piggyback downfield via a penalty. From the resulting set Kevin Gordon came desperately close to scoring the match-winner but the Vodafone Warriors survived the scare and negotiated the last seconds of the game for their sixth straight win against the Titans. None of the previous five were quite this important.


Next up its the Raiders and another chance to stay in the race. It will be a huge night, the Vodafone Warriors holding their annual old boys day and farewelling departing players but the central focus will be on another win.

Match details:


At Skilled Park, Robina

Gold Coast Titans 22 (Ryan James 2, Brad Takairangi, Anthony Dom tries; Aidan Sezer 3 conversions).

Vodafone Warriors 24 (Jerome Ropati 2, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell tries; Shaun Johnson 3 conversions, penalty).

Halftime: 16-10 Titans.

Referees: Gerard Sutton and Jared Maxwell.

Crowd: 15,786.



Vodafone Warriors: Kevin Locke; Jerome Ropati, Konrad Hurrell, Dane Nielsen, Manu Vatuvei; Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson; Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Suaia Matagi; Elijah Taylor, Simon Mannering (c); Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Dominique Peyroux.