NRL NINES | Titans edged out 17-10
The partisan crowd had to wait through five games before seeing the Vodafone Warriors make their first appearance at the 2015 NRL Auckland Nines - and it couldn't come soon enough.
Ultimately they were rewarded as the Andrew McFadden-coached side nailed a 17-10 first-upo victory.
Playing in their paua-coloured 'Tangaroa' jersey, they began well by forcing Gold Coast to make an early error only to reciprocate.
After only three sets Ryan Hoffman was on the field for the first time for his new club.
A clever grubber and tap on by Tuimoala Lolohea seemed to have created the oprning try but Lolohea was ruled to have knocked the ball forward.
Another Titans error handed the Vodafone Warriors more possession and, helped by back to back penalties, Hoffman powered over for his first try for the club in the fourth minute.
Immediately the Titans responded with Josh Hoffman scoring and Daniel Mortimer converting to make it 6-6.
Right on halftime the Vodafone Warriors went 13-6 ahead, Solomone Kata stepping through the line and surging away to grab a five-point try between the posts.
The Vodafone Warriors began the second half indifferently, turning the ball over on attack and then soon after failing to clean up a kick in-goal, gifting the Titans a try to Aidan Sezer. The conversion from close range missed leaving the Vodafone Warriors 13-10 ahead.
If there was some anxiety it was laid to rest when Lolohea provided what proved to be the match-winner. It wasn't converted leaving the home side 17-10 ahead.
Commitment and desire was in full evidence in the closing moments when renowned speedster James Roberts eyed an opening down the right touchline. He might have fancied his chances but Manu Vatuvei and Solomone Kata rounded him up and put him into touch.
Afterwards captain Shaun Johnson found both good and not so good in what was at times a scratchy showing. What he didn't like was the error count but what he certainly liked was the final outcome and also the effort shown by Vatuvei and Kata with their defensive work at the death.
Vatuvei rated the atmosphere as similar to a grand final. There was no question the noise level rose exponentially when the Vodafone Warriors came out to play.