The Vodafone Warriors have picked up their first away win of the season - and given veteran Ryan Hoffman the perfect result in his 300th career match - after surging to an impressive 34-12 victory over Gold Coast in Saturday's 14th-round NRL clash at a drenched Cbus Super Stadium in Robina.
The 33-year-old Hoffman's stamp was all over the day.
He led his team onto the field with his family, scored the Vodafone Warriors' first try of the match and then iced a memorable victory and occasion by calmly converting Ata Hingano's try in the final seconds. It was the first goal of his career after two failed previous attempts.
The result was the ideal way for the Vodafone Warriors to head into the first of their two byes, improving their win-loss record to 6-8 and lifting them to 12 points, two clear of today's opponents and within touch of the top eight. Their total of 34 points was the most they have scored in a game this season.
It also significantly improved their points for and against differential while further enhancing the Vodafone Warriors' outstanding record against the Titans. This was their seventh straight win against them at Cbus Super Stadium and their 13th in their last 14 encounters with Gold Coast.
There were concerns about a leg injury which forced Kieran Foran off after 64 minutes but when he left the field Hingano settled in quickly and left his mark in the final stages.
Coming off a disappointing loss to Parramatta last week, the Vodafone Warriors were desperate to atone with a consistent line-up entrusted with doing the job (only prop James Gavet was missing).
After a steady start from both sides, the Titans ran the ball on the last down the short side on the left where they had numbers for Kane Elgey to scoot away to score in the fifth minute. Ash Taylor was well off with his conversion attempt.
The Vodafone Warriors were anything but put out by conceding first points, quickly responding with a delightfully crafted try for none other than the milestone man himself, Hoffman.
Hooker Issac Luke cleared the ball beautifully to the left from dummy half, Foran and Shaun Johnson combining to open up a wide channel for Hoffman to run through for his 70th career try. Luke had the kicking duties and duly slotted the conversion for a 6-4 lead after 10 minutes.
The match was almost 20 minutes old before the Vodafone Warriors made their first error after completing their first eight sets. It handed the Titans possession in a great attacking position but they spilled the ball.
After that error and a piggy back penalty, the Vodafone Warriors set up for a raid on the right, Foran going to the air, David Fusitu'a rising for the ball, juggling it but appearing to regather it for a try. The referee and bunker didn't agree. No try.
Another try was in the offing soon after, off loads keeping the ball alive up the middle but Roger Tuivasa-Sheck not able to hold on with the line clear.
Soon enough the Vodafone Warriors made amends - three times in the space of six minutes during a period when the heavens opened.
The first leg of the treble came in the 30th minute through the right side, Johnson to Bodene Thompson. The second rower off loaded in contact to Johnson doubling around and he popped a pass over the top for an unmarked Blake Ayshford to run around closer to the posts for his second try of the season. Luke again converted for a 12-4 lead.
Three minutes later the scoring action was on the left as the Vodafone Warriors continued to build their sets well. They put pressure on through the middle, looked to their left and then went there again when Foran's brilliant cut-out pass on the short side put the unmarked Ken Maumalo in for his third try in as many weeks. Luke's conversion was fantastic once again for an 18-4 advantage.
Just another three minutes passed and there was more scoring action, Tuivasa-Sheck ripping onto a Thompson off load and scorching across the wet turf to score as he did Jarryd Hayne for pace. Again Luke nailed to conversion.
Right on halftime they threatened again but still went to halftime 24-4 ahead.
The second half started and a fifth try was a chance off a Foran kick, only Hoffman was found to have knocked on in the aerial contest.
The error came at a cost, Gold Coast marching downfield to create a try for Hayne. Again Taylor couldn't convert leaving the score-line 24-8 after 46 minutes.
In the 49th minute Tuivasa-Sheck attacked Gold Coast's right side on the last tackle and very nearly scythed through for his second try of the game.
Ther Vodafone Warriors kept grinding away, defending their lead.
There was anxiety as they looked to build into a good position in the 65th minute, the busy Foran going down with a leg injury which saw him being helped off the field. Fortunately head coach Stephen Kearney had altered his interchange strategy by including Ata Hingano on the bench instead of hooker Nathaniel Roache.
He came on and the Vodafone Warriors didn't miss a beat.
They had the chance of taking a penalty for a 26-8 lead but the leaders on the field opted to go again. First they forced a goal-line dropout after a clever last tackle Johnson kick, steamed back and Johnson and Tuivasa-Sheck were in synch again on the right to put Ayshford over for his second try of the night. Luke missed for the first time in the match but the lead was out to 20 points at 28-8.
Into the final 10 minutes Gold Coast had its third try, a nice around-the-back pass putting Dale Copley in to cut the damage to 12-28.
It looked like Maumalo had his second try, Hingano throwing a sweet cut-out ball for the big winger to expose Gold Coast's right edge once more but Hingano's pass was called forward. It looked to be a harsh decision.
No need to worry. When the Vodafone Warriors had the last possession of the match they were hungry to finish the day well.
Simon Mannering urged the side calling for the play to go right. A nice clearance from Luke again to Mannering who went out the back to Johnson and the halfback had Hingano screaming onto the sweetest of passes and carving through traffic on an angled run for his first NRL try. His team-mates were elated for him.
All that was left was for Hoffman to ice the day with the conversion. For a man with no kicking pedigree he couldn't have done it better and he was instantly mobbed by the rest of the team.
There were heroes galore.
Johnson orchestrated the show with three try assists and a fine kicking game, Maumalo made 215 metres, Tuivasa-Sheck made 203 metres, Jacob Lillyman 142, Fusitu'a 130, Ben Matulino 123, Mannering 102 and Ayshford 101. Thompson had many telling moments plus 46 tackles while Sam Lisone, Albert Vete and Bunty Afoa added plenty of punch and energy.
Now the Vodafone Warriors break ahead of their next outing against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Mount Smart Stadium on Friday, June 23 (8.00pm kick-off).
Cbus Super Stadium, Robina
Gold Coast Titans 12 (Kane Elgey, Jarryd Hayne, Dale Copley tries).
Vodafone Warriors 34 (Blake Ayshford 2, Ryan Hoffman, Ken Maumalo, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ata Hingano tries; Issac Luke 4 conversions; Ryan Hoffman conversion).
Halftime: 24-4 Vodafone Warriors.
Referees: Dave Munro and Chris Sutton.
Vodafone Warriors | Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c); David Fusitu'a, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo; Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson; Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Ben Matulino; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman; Simon Mannering. Interchange: Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, Bunty Afoa, Mafoa'aeata Hingano.