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High praise from Holbrook for new boys Tino and Dave

The new recruits brought a large smile to the face of Titans coach Justin Holbrook in Saturday's trial against the Warriors, especially when he saw what Storm premiership winner Tino Fa'asuamaleuai can do with a head of steam up.

The  Maroons forward gave every indication he could be one of the buys of the year as he produced a powerhouse 40-metre burst to score the Titans' opening try in the 12-all draw at Oakes Oval in Lismore. 

"He was great wasn't he? He's been training so well for us - he trains the way he plays so he's been terrific," Holbrook said.

"I thought Tino and AJ (Brimson) were really good so they'll be perfect for us in round one."

The Warriors might not like the thought of trying to contain some of the Titans stars but they get another bite of that cherry when the two clubs meet on Sunday March 13 in Gosford for the opening game of the 2021 season.

Brimson played his first game since breaking a bone and tearing ligaments in his left foot in Queensland's opening State of Origin win in Adelaide last November. He put the foot to the test early with a 20-metre line break. 

Then there was the ever-imposing threat of another new recruit in David Fifita, who made life tough for Warriors stand-in halfback Sean O'Sullivan by rolling right over the top of him a couple of times.

"I was also really happy with Dave - he's going great, too," Holbrook said.

"So in terms of how all the players went and how the game panned out I'm really happy with that. I thought here was some really good signs for us without being brilliant.

"It was a good hit-out ... and always a bit awkward knowing that we're playing them in two weeks but I'm happy with what I saw.

"It was what we needed - we just need to play footy and now getting through all that we can look forward to round one."

The Warriors also had some new product on show and shine they did. Former Tigers and Panthers hardman Ben Murdoch-Masila created plenty of room up the middle thereby giving his team momentum. He has returned from five years in Super League with Salford and Warrington. 

His barging runs were mirrored by Tongan international and former Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake, who offered good minutes for coach Nathan Brown.

Big Tino lights up Lismore

The Titans always looked the more threatening early. Halfback Jamal Fogarty picked up from where he left with the Indigenous All Stars a week ago with quick hands and speed at the line.

The Warriors defence held firm but when starting hooker Wayde Egan left the field in the 15th minute with an elbow injury, it seemed to be a turning point.

Fa'asuamaleuai scored in the next set before Jarrod Wallace gratefully accepted a pass from Anthony Don - a local NSW northern rivers product - to score three minutes later to put the Titans up 12-0.

The Warriors finally got on the scoresheet before half-time through second-rower Josh Curran by crashing through the combined tackle of Mitch Rein and Brian Kelly.

At 12-6 at the break it was anyone's game but fatigue was starting to show in both teams.

Midway through the second half Roger Tuivasa-Sheck began his farewell NRL tour with a traditional bust upfield after stepping Titans half Ash Taylor.

Kodi Nikorima and Jazz Tevaga followed in support with Tevaga finishing off. That locked the scores up at 12-12 with a quarter of the game to play. 

The Titans pressed hard in the closing stages for no reward, despite former Warrior Patrick Herbert three times going within centimetres of scoring against his old team-mates.

But with no golden point in trial games, it remained a tied ball game.

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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