The Warriors have extended their Gold Coast dominance and claimed the inaugural Zae Wallace Shield as the Titans lost both Jai Arrow and Tyrone Peachey to injury in the opening 40 minutes at Cbus Super Stadium.
But the 24-20 triumph for the Warriors was the perfect way to celebrate Adam Blair's 300th NRL game, even if he did spend the last 40 seconds in the sin-bin for a late tackle on Titans five-eighth Tyrone Roberts.
A 12-all half-time stalemate wasn’t broken until the 64th minute, when the Titans edged ahead with a penalty goal. But late tries to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Ken Maumalo earned the Warriors their win - their eighth in 13 visits to Robina.
After crossing through fullback AJ Brimson in the 74th minute and seeing Blair sin-binned, the Titans had one final chance to level the scores but came up empty - Brimson handing over possession with a kick that got caught up in the feet of the 12-man Warriors defensive line.
Coming into the game without Kevin Proctor (fractured eye socket) and Keegan Hipgrave (suspension), the Titans first lost Peachey in the 13th minute with a suspected pectoral injury, while Arrow’s preparation for Origin II suffered a setback when he went down with an ankle injury in the 28th minute.
Match: Titans v Warriors
Round 14 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
On crutches and in a moon boot at half-time, Arrow looked in considerable pain as he limped assisted from the field and will now face an anxious wait until he get scans on Saturday to ascertain the extent of the injury.
A late addition to the starting side, Karl Lawton burrowed over from dummy-half to open the scoring for the Warriors inside three minutes after fellow former Titan Agnatius Paasi had been brought down inches short on the previous play.
A forward pass by Anthony Don on the second tackle 30 metres out from his own line gave the Warriors a second shot. And it took just one tackle and some light stepping from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to grab their second inside 13 minutes, Ken Maumalo planting the ball across the stripe for the ninth time this season to give his side a 10-0 advantage.
Two penalties in quick succession – their first for the game – gave the Titans a set starting just outside the Warriors 10-metre line and they too found a way through, halfback Ryley Jacks spearing through for his first try as a Titan in the 22nd minute. But the best was to come soon after.
Instigated by an Arrow offload in the set after points, a Brian Kelly bust took the Titans into Warriors territory and two tackles later he crossed for his side’s second try in as many minutes.
A Bryce Cartwright examination down the short side on the last tackle came up empty. But it sparked an exciting interchange of passing that caught the Warriors short on the left, Roberts providing the final pass for Kelly’s sixth of the year.
A mild melee sparked by an exchange between Issac Luke and Mitch Rein allowed the Warriors to draw level at 12-12 courtesy of a Luke penalty goal five minutes before half-time, Jacks missing an opportunity to score his second off a Roberts grubber kick a minute before the break.
The first genuine try-scoring opportunity of the second half didn’t come until the 61st minute and again it was Jacks who was turned down, Don’s right hand ruled to have touched the Roberts kick before it bounced into the in-goal for Jacks to dive on.
A stripping penalty in front of the posts gave the Titans a 14-12 edge at the 64th minute but it was short-lived.
An over-zealous Nathan Peats gave Blake Green a gaping hole to run through on the final tackle, the Warriors No.7 finding Tuivasa-Sheck on his inside to score to the right of the posts and an 18-14 advantage with 11 minutes to play.
A Kodi Nikorima tip-on and Peta Hiku pass put Maumalo over for his second in the 74th minute with Luke’s sideline conversion stretching the score out to 24-14, the Titans setting up a frenetic finish with a converted try to Brimson in the north-east corner.
Arrow leaves field with leg injury