Two brilliant second-half plays from Gold Coast centre Brenko Lee and the coming of age of AJ Brimson helped the Titans break their dreadful Warriors hoodoo at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday.
The Titans outscored the Warriors 28-0 in the second half to run out 36-12 winners – breaking a record that had seen them lose 14 of the previous 15 games against the New Zealand side.
In the first six minutes of the second half, Lee, who celebrated a one-year contract extension with the Titans with his best performance of the season, set up a try for Anthony Don then scored himself from a 55-metre intercept to turn the game on its ear.
And the 19-year-old Brimson, who moments earlier had pulled off try-saving tackles on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Sam Lisone, virtually sunk the Warriors' spirit in the last 25 minutes with a long-range try and a brilliant catch and pass for a Philip Sami try – all part of his most decisive performance at five-eighth in his 10 NRL appearances.
While Ash Taylor was again a mixed bag, doing some good quality things with the ball but coming up with some errors, Brimson took more control of the Titans' attack than he has in any other match while he was again faultless in defence.
Match: Titans v Warriors
Round 20 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
- LIVE PASS
The Warriors gave up any chance of a top-four finish and were disjointed and outplayed in the second half after leading 12-8 at the break.
The Titans had the best possible start to the game as a rush of penalties and a line-drop out gave them 72 percent of the early possession. Off the back of all that ball, Konrad Hurrell crossed in the left corner in the sixth minute against his old club after a good shift through halves Taylor and Brimson.
Michael Gordon's touchline conversion gave them a handy 6-0 lead but it lasted just five minutes when Shaun Johnson, who has so often been the Titans' nemesis, crossed too easily - after two right-foot steps - during the Warriors' first foray into Gold Coast territory.
His conversion made it 6-6.
After a Michael Gordon penalty goal gave the Titans back the lead, the Warriors scored again when Karl Lawton crashed over. The visitors led 12-8.
It took just two and a half minutes of the season half for the Titans to gain the lead for a third time, through brilliant work by right centre Lee who beat Solomone Kata with a right foot step and broke through, giving Anthony Don an easy few metres to the try-line. Gordon converted from wide-out to make it 14-12.
Lee was the hero a few minutes later when he snatched a pass from Jazz Tevaga near halfway and ran unopposed to the goalposts, with Gordon's conversion making it 20-12 and dramatic shift in the game had occurred in the first eight minutes of the season half.
Brimson, soon after making two try-saving tackles on his own line, latched onto a break from dummy-half by Mitch Rein from inside Titans' territory and scored in the 62nd minute, Gordon's conversion making it 26-12.
Phillip Sami bagged a late double, with the first of his tries featuring some fancy footwork.
Titans coach Garth Brennan described the effort as the best 80-minute performance for some time, and an indication of what his young side is capable of achieving.
"They have shown some signs of that throughout the year at different parts of games but today I thought it was probably our most complete 80 minutes of the year," he said. "I am really proud of the effort, especially the second half defensively.
"There is a massive upside for the Titans. We've had some heartbreaking times this year and have some performances that aren't where they need to be. But I know we' heading in the right direction and this year will be great for them going forward."
News & Notes: Titans prop Jarrod Wallace was put on report for a crusher tackle on James Gavet in the 12th minute, although it didn't look too bad ... the Warriors will stay in Australia before taking on the Dragons next Saturday in Wollongong ... it was the Titans' first victory against the Warriors at Cbus Super Stadium since 2010 ... it was the Titans' biggest victory against the Warriors in their 24 clashes, beating the previous record of 30-10 at Mt Smart in 2009 ... crowd 15,149