Match Summary The Warriors have continued their march towards the 2007 finals series with a comprehensive, yet at times uninspiring, defeat of the Titans 30-6 at Mt Smart Stadium tonight.
In a complete reversal from their last start draw against the Roosters, in which the lead chopped and changed multiple times throughout the match, the Warriors were in charge of this game from the get-go, and the Titans never looked like getting themselves into it.
The Warriors started the match in typical fashion of how they've played this year, racing out to a commanding 18-0 lead after 18 minutes through tries to Jerome Ropati and a double to halfback Grant Rovelli.
At this point, the Warriors looked to take their foot off the pedal, with their sets in attack not being as enterprising as they were for the first quarter of the game.
Their defence, however, stayed strong and refused to give away any points to a desperate Titans outfit. The Titans managed to get the ball planted down in the in-goal once, only for it to be denied for a forward pass, and leaving us with our half time score of 18-0.
Returning for the second half, the Warriors emerged the same team that went in for the break, with no real enthusiasm in attack and now the added bonus of poor passing and sloppy ball handling, giving the Titans their best chance to get back into this match.
The Titans finally got over the line in the 47th minute through second rower Anthony Laffranchi, but it was the only points they would score for the rest of the night.
Ropati and Rovelli both crossed the line to complete the proverbial 'full house' of try scorers, and wrap up this game and a finals spot for the Warriors, at the same time most likely ending the Titans hopes of making the finals in their inaugural year.
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Grant Rovelli (Warriors) 2 Points: Steve Price (Warriors) 1 Point: Jerome Ropati (Warriors)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary: Welcome one and all to Mt Smart Stadium for tonights clash between the New Zealand Warriors and the Gold Coast Titans. The Warriors are coming off the "match of the season" draw with the Roosters, whilst the Titans last week snapped a five game losing streak with a morale boosting win over the Tigers.
Team changes are as such: Warriors: In a huge blow for the home team, fullback Wade McKinnon is out with an ankle injury, with Patrick Ah Van coming in to replace him. Winger Michael Crockett has been stood down for the match, with Todd Byrne coming into the team. And Nathan Fien will start the match at hooker, with George Gatis going back to the bench. Titans: Mat Rogers is out of this match, with Luke O'Dwyer going from lock to the centres. Nathan Friend will start from the bench, with coach John Cartwright opting to play an all forward starting pack, with Mark Minichiello starting at hooker and Gavin Cooper starting in the second row, and Josh Graham coming in at lock in jersey number 21.
This is a must win game for the Titans if they wish to keep in touch with the top 8, but they will have a fight on their hands in the high flying Warriors who have scored 150 points in their last three home games, and are arguably the form team of the competition.
Kick-off is just moments away.
0 min: Referee Cummins signals time on and we're underway here in New Zealand with Steve Price getting the first carry of the match.
3 min: PENALTY - Titans: Titans are awarded the first penalty of the match for markers not being square.
5 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors The Warriors start the scoring off and they did it all too easily. Vatuvei made half a break inside his own half and then offloaded to Grant Rovelli, who used great footwork to get around Preston Campbell and dot down beside the posts. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 6-0
7 min: Warriors controlling this game early, getting numbers in the tackles and slowing down the play the ball.
10 min: Todd Byrne, in his 100th first grade game, good a bomb absolutely beautifully under heavy pressure from the Titans, and then returned the ball some 20 metres before being wrapped up.
13 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors The Warriors looking to keep up with the clock in this one. Coming off a quick play the ball, Fien looks to take advantage of the Titans compressed defensive line by passing out wide to Simon Mannering, who steamed onto the ball at full speed and raced down the sideline before passing back inside to Rovelli who grabs himself a double. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 12-0
15 min: Preston Campbell has just taken a bomb in spectacular fashion, flying high through the air while doing a twirl of some sort, and narrowly missing being taken out by Vatuvei.
17 min: The Titans cough the ball up deep in their own half, and the Warriors will look to pile more points on the board.
18 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Simple numbers play here. Witt takes advantage of a 4 on 2 overlap and passes out wide to Ropati who strolls over for the try. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 18-0
19 min: The rains have come here at Mt Smart Stadium, so it will be interesting to see if ball handling goes out the window.
20 min: PENALTY - Titans: The Warriors are penalised in possession of the ball after Wiki played the ball facing the grandstand.
23 min: Gold Coast have just had their best chance of the match to score, only for Delaney to lose the ball over the sideline.
24 min: PENALTY - Warriors: Josh Lewis strips the ball out of Logan Swann's arms, and the Warriors will start their set on the Titans 40 metre line.
25 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Warriors Try...
25 min: NO TRY - 20 Metre Restart Video Referee Tim Mander rules that Simon Mannering has bounced the ball while trying to ground it in-goal, so the Titans will bring the ball back out to the 20 for the restart.
30 min: PENALTY - Warriors: Bailey puts a bit too much in the tackle and gives the Warriors another chance to add to their lead.
31 min: Last weeks man of the match Lauaki and just coughed up the ball on tackle two, and immediately relieved the pressure on the Titans.
33 min: PENALTY - Warriors: Delaney strips the ball out of Vatuvei's arms, and gives the Warriors another set of six in great field position.
35 min: The Titans find themselves in excellent field position courtesy of a Vatuvei off-load directly into Scott Prince's arms...and I mean directly. Vatuvei was being wrapped up in a tackle, he saw Scott Prince nearby, and off-loaded the ball straight into Prince's arms. Bizarre, I didn't realise the Titans and Warriors jerseys were that similar.
36 min: Smith Samau sneaks over in the corner, only to be denied for a forward pass.
39 min: Rovelli went for a field goal from 35 out, but didn't strike it cleanly and the Titans will have the last use of the ball this half.
HALF TIME It's half time here at Mt Smart Stadium, with the Warriors leading the Titans 18-0.
It was a fast start from the Warriors, scoring their 18 points within the first 18 minutes, but the game has certainly flattened out since then. The Titans have tightened up their defence, making it harder for the Warriors to go through or around them. However the Titans need to work on their discipline as they have been guilty of giving away cheap penalties deep in the Warriors half far too many times.
Going into half time, this is anybody's game. If the Warriors continue as they were just before the break, then the Titans are in with a real chance to steal this game. However, should the Warriors come out firing as the did at the start of the match, then look out Titans...
40 min: Witt gets the second half underway!
42 min: After Witt puts a nicely weighted kick into the in-goal, Campbell stands and watches the ball, willing it to go dead, which it doesn't, forcing Campbell to play at the ball. He picks it up, and beats four defenders on his way to returning the ball to the field of play.
44 min: CROWD: 20,609
45 min: The Warriors are certainly not playing with the same intensity they had at the start of the game, cheaply handing the ball over to the Titans and inviting them to put points on the board.
47 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans And put points on the board they do! Scott Prince threads a grubber through on the last, and Laffranchi reaches down, plucks the ball out from in front of Byrne and plants it down next to the posts. Conversion attempt by Brett Delaney successful. New Zealand Warriors 18-6
48 min: PENALTY - Titans: Lauaki gives away the penalty on the first tackle for working Donnelly over on the ground, and the Titans will immediately go back on attack.
49 min: The Titans will get a fresh set of six inside the Warriors 20 after a decision by referee Cummins that is very unpopular with the Warriors fans. Campbell loses the ball, Vatuvei scoops it up and runs it, only to be tackled over the sideline. Cummins rules that Vatuvei took his advantage and awards a scrum to the Titans.
54 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Warriors Try...
54 min: NO TRY - Penalty Titans: After playing some razzle dazzle footy that would entertain anyone, league supporter or not, the Warriors give away the penalty after Steve Price is ruled to have taken Campbell out of the play.
55 min: Patrick Ah Van has just made the biggest blunder of the game so far after knocking the ball on under absolutely no pressure whatsoever, giving the Titans a fresh set of six 10 out from the Warriors line.
56 min: A big let off for Ah Van, with Campbell sending the ball over the sideline.
57 min: PENALTY - Warriors: Laffranchi goes on with the tackle for far too long, and the Warriors will start their set 30 out from the Titans line.
58 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Grant Rovelli does it all himself here as he dummies to the outside, the jinks off his left foot, then his right to get around Josh Lewis and dive over to complete his hat-trick. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 24-6
60 min: With twenty minutes remaining, the Titans have a big job ahead of them if they wish to keep their finals dream alive.
61 min: PENALTY - Warriors: Another penalty to the Warriors here, this time for a grapple tackle on Steve Price, yet the Warriors fail to find touch and give the ball back to the Titans.
62 min: PENALTY - Titans: Wiki is ruled to be offside, and the Titans will get a fresh set inside the Warriors 20.
68 min: The intensity in this game has certainly dropped off, which seems largely to do with the weather and greasy conditions. Players are having trouble keeping their footing, and the number of dropped balls has increased a fair bit.
69 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Titans Try...
69 min: NO TRY - 20 Metre Restart Campbell knocks the ball on whilst trying to ground his own grubber to the in-goal, and the Warriors look to have this game in the bag.
70 min: PENALTY - Warriors: The Titans give away yet another penalty, and the Warriors will have another set deep in the Titans half.
71 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Warriors Try...
71 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Tim Mander awards Ropati his second on benefit of the doubt, and the Warriors put this game beyond doubt. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 30-6
74 min: PENALTY - Titans: The Warriors tacklers lie all over the tackled Titan, and give the Titans a chance to score a consolation try.
78 min: PENALTY - Warriors: The Warriors get the penalty for being held down in the tackle, and will get one last chance to increase their lead and already impressive for and against.
80 min: The Titans almost score an impressive try right at the death, but, much like the rest of the game, it just wasn't meant to be.
FULL TIME And it's full time here at Mt Smart Stadium, with the Warriors running out winners 30-6, and the Titans first year finals hopes looking to be all but over.