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The Gold Coast Titans will take the two competition points in a performance that was never spectacular but always classy at Mt Smart Stadium today, a 30-10 victory over the New Zealand Warriors going their way in front of 10,205 fans.
With a scoreline that flattered the visiting side, the Warriors first half lack of effort is where they lost the game. The Titans opened proceedings with a penalty goal early and then followed up with tries in the 11th and 21st minutes to stun the pro-Warriors crowd into silence early in the half. The home side's defence marked up for the remaining section of the first half, but their attack simply lacked the finishing touches to get them over the line.
The second half changed the script slightly, two fantastic aerial tries to Manu Vatuvei in what was the third quarter of the game brought the Warriors back to within four points before the visiting Titans went on with the game late, a double to Mat Rogers and an easy try out wide to Kevin Gordon putting the result beyond any doubt.
The win cements the Titans third position ahead of the Melbourne Storm, and now creates a four point gap between the top four and fifth place, almost certainly assuring the Titans a home semi final. The Warriors are now barely a mathematical hope of playing September football and will be looking to restore pride over the remaining four rounds before aiming for 2010.
Match Details Gold Coast Titans 30 def New Zealand Warriors 10 Round 22 - Sunday August 9th, 2009 12:00pm Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland Referee: Steve Lyons & Alan Shortall Sideline Officials: Daniel Eastwood & Gavin Reynolds Video Referee: Chris Ward Crowd: 10,205 Halftime: New Zealand Warriors 0 Gold Coast Titans 14
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Mt Smart Stadium is where the action is for the first of three big Sunday clashes, the home side the Warriors will be playing for little more than pride today, while the Titans will be hoping to keep pace with the Bulldogs who skipped four points clear after last nights 23-20 victory over Canberra. Canberra's loss will allow the Warriors to skip clear of them on the table should they win today.
A few changes afoot for both teams - Elijah Taylor not playing today, bringing Lance Hohaia into the centres. Ian Henderson is the new player onto the bench. The Titans on the hand have lost their Henderson (Michael) from the front row, Matthew White into the pack, and the bench addition becomes Sam Tagatease, with Chris Walker left out of proceedings today.
WARRIORS: 1. Kevin Locke 2. Patrick Ah Van 14. Lance Hohaia 4. Joel Moon 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Aaron Heremaia 7. Stacey Jones 8. Sam Rapira 9. Lewis Brown 10. Russell Packer 11. Simon Mannering 12. Ben Matulino 13. Micheal Luck Interchange: 15. Evarn Tuimavave 16. Jacob Lillyman 17. Ukuma Ta'ai 18. Ian Henderson TITANS: 1. William Zillman 2. Kevin Gordon 3. Mat Rogers 4. Jordan Atkins 5. David Mead 6. Preston Campbell 7. Scott Prince 8. Luke Bailey 9. Nathan Friend 14. Matthew White 11. Anthony Laffranchi 12. Mark Minichiello 13. Josh Graham Interchange: 15. Aaron Cannings 16. Brad Meyers 19. Will Matthews 21. Sam Tagataese
Kickoff is close at Mt Smart, don't go anywhere.
2 min: Solid first sets from both teams, a relatively poor kick from Preston Campbell at the end of the Titans set goes straight into the breadbasket of Kevin Locke who makes it back to just short of the 40m.
3 min: Some good last tackle play from Scott Prince, putting a kick into the in-goal and forcing the first line drop-out of the afternoon.
5 min: The Titans force another repeat set, Campbell this time with a little grubber and the Warriors backs fumble it dead. Line drop-out again. From the ensuing set Stacey Jones takes a Titans player with a grapple and it's a PENALTY. The Titans will shoot for two.
8 min: The Warriors first foray into Titans territory results in a kick grubbering over the dead ball line. The Titans with a 20m tap. Gold Coast making easy metres from the set.
9 min: The fifth tackle kick ricochets off a Warrior and it's six again for the Gold Coast inside the Warriors half.
11 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans A short ball to Laffranchi before the line results in the first try of the day, Anthony crashes over beside the posts. Some conjecture over the earlier repeat set-of-six ruling leading to the try however the points are on the board now. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 8-0
13 min: PENALTY Titans - wandering hands from the Warriors defenders result in a strip and it's another chance for the Titans to strike.
14 min: The Gold Coast with another grubber into the in-goal and they tackle Kevin Locke there, another line drop-out.
15 min: Scott Prince tries a neat little off-the-goalpost kick but Kevin Locke's cleaned up the scraps and the Warriors breathe a sigh of relief. The Titans piggy-back the Warriors up-field with a silly PENALTY.
17 min: Evarn Tuimavaive has picked up Mat Rogers and wrestled him over the sideline, but the referee argues that he called held and blows a PENALTY to the Titans.
19 min: Another line drop-out, this time Locke fumbles an on-the-full catch. The Warriors looking tired already.
21 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Good offloading from the Titans before the line sees Scott Prince with the ball and he's able to dummy and push his way past a few to get the ball down. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 14-0
24 min: The sun's come out at Mt Smart Stadium, bright and sunny stuff and the Titans come up with an error inside their own half through Mat Rogers. It's the Warriors first full set within sight of the Gold Coast line, what can they offer?
25 min: PENALTY Warriors - the Titans laying on the player with the ball and it's six more for the home side.
26 min: PENALTY Warriors - Lyons rules the Titans are offside defending on their line. Strong defence from the Titans so far.
27 min: Lillyman turns the ball over with a terrible attempted offload and the Titans have the ball now.
28 min: The fifth tackle kick for the Gold Coast comes off a Warrior mid-field and the home side has managed to get possession. The Titans markers aren't square on tackle three and it's a PENALTY again to the Warriors.
29 min: Ukuma Ta'ai finds a gap before the line and powers toward it, but the Titans defenders converge on him and hold him up on tackle five.
31 min: A mistake by the Warriors in their own half gives the Titans a chance to take an extended lead late in the first half... but they cough it up too. Vatuvei to come away with the ball now.
33 min: Jones and Packer try linking up but the ball goes to the floor and the referee rules a knock-on, just as the home side were beginning to look threatening.
35 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Titans try The bounce of the ball eludes the Warriors backs and the Titans find themselves with it, and an inside ball to Jordan Atkins sees him score. There were a number of players well and truly in front of Scott Prince and it will not be a try. NO TRY, PENALTY Warriors. They don't find touch. Now the Titans lose it. The Warriors to attack.
37 min: Jordan Atkins spills the ball on his own 10m line with just a couple of minutes on the clock in the first half. The Warriors with a chance to close the gap before the break.
38 min: A little too enterprising for the Warriors, the ball goes over the head of big Manu Vatuvei and into touch as they spread it wide.
HALFTIME: New Zealand Warriors 0 Gold Coast Titans 14 The Titans haven't been playing in top gear but have done enough to be out in front comfortably, while the Warriors just don't look like crossing the line. Scott Prince has masterminded the Titans attack so far and they'll be looking for him to do more of the same in the second forty. The Warriors simply need to stop standing so flat and their big men need to lay more of a platform or they simply won't score a point.
Second half should get underway in about ten minutes.
43 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Titans try Aaron Cannings spots a big gap and runs through it but the Warriors claim he was held up. Indeed he was, NO TRY. The Titans will play the ball ten metres out. Hold on... the video screen is playing funny buggers - it says "TRY" despite the Titans playing the ball. The ruling was indeed NO TRY.
44 min: The Titans fifth-tackle option sees them tackled and it's a handover. And now they offer a PENALTY to the Warriors out of the danger zone. Discipline not the best for the Titans so far in the second half.
45 min: Another PENALTY for the Warriors. Lyons calls out Prince again and issues a veiled threat of sin binning if the problems continue. Attacking chance for NZ now.
47 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors A perfect aerial ball find Manu Vatuvei who rises above the pack and he gets it down to put the first points on the board for the Warriors today. Conversion attempt by Kevin Locke successful. Gold Coast Titans 14-6
50 min: PENALTY Warriors - the visiting side still laying on the tackled player and it earns the Warriors another set inside the Titans half. The momentum is with them now... until they drop it. Terrible attacking stuff from the Warriors.
51 min: Titans last tackle kick finds Vatuvei and he makes a solid 20 metres from the return. Easily the Warriors best today big Manu.
54 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Carbon copy of the same try seven minutes prior, Jones hoists it across the park and again it's Vatuvei above the pack, the Titans backs can't stop him and he gets it down again. Conversion attempt by Kevin Locke unsuccessful. Gold Coast Titans 14-10
57 min: An error from Hohaia now and it'll be the Titans with possession inside the opposition half.
58 min: Mark Minichiello spills the ball with the Titans hot on the attack. Warriors to work it out now.
INJURY: Aaron Cannings (GCO) won't be returning today.
62 min: End-to-end stuff in the last few minutes from both sides, trying to get themselves in position to score the match-winner. Still plenty of time on the clock though.
64 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Kevin Gordon is the beneficiary of Patrick Ah Van coming in off the wing, a big bomb being tapped back to him. Some debate about whether the player who tapped back the ball for Gordon was onside... but it's given anyway. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince unsuccessful. Gold Coast Titans 18-10
66 min: PENALTY Titans - a strip by the Warriors gives the Titans a piggy-back out of their own half.
67 min: Titans force a line drop-out.
68 min: Ukuma Ta'ai knocks the ball forward before making a big break and handing it to Hohaia. No luck though, the ref calls them back. Titans scrum ten metres out.
69 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Simple stuff from the scrumbase and the ball goes out to Mat Rogers and the game is wrapped up for the Titans now. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 24-10
70 min: The restart goes out on the full. PENALTY Titans on halfway.
72 min: A line drop-out is forced, the Warriors go high and short and Vatuvei grabs it and the Warriors will come up with the ball!
76 min: The Titans with an attacking set right on the Warriors line.
77 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans The Titans simply use the numbers to the left again and Mat Rogers bounces off some feeble attempts at tackling from the Warriors' defence. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 30-10
79 min: Scott Prince puts it out on the full with 40 seconds on the clock. Looked like he was attempting a late 40/20. Ah Van is put over the touchline following the scrum. No further play will take place with just 20 seconds to go... that's the ball-game.
FULLTIME: Gold Coast Titans 30 New Zealand Warriors 10 A solid but not spectacular victory for the Titans. A concern for them to have let the Warriors get close soon after the halftime break, but they eventually just overpowered their rivals.