Warriors withstand determined Titans

The New Zealand Warriors have held out a fast-finishing Gold Coast Titans to record their second victory of the 2013 season, 25-24 at Mt Smart Stadium this afternoon.

With strong wind and rainy conditions setting the scene, the home side made sure they took advantage of the weather in the first half, with two early tries. Manu Vatuvei put in a strong early performance, scoring the first in the corner before inadvertently setting up the second for second-rower Feleti Mateo.

It wasn't long before the Titans showed their class out wide, with Jamal Idris opening his side's account with a powerful wide run. Shortly before halftime the Warriors struck back again, Ben Henry setting up Bill Tupou.

Up 16-6, the Warriors overcame a rusty start to the second half to extend the lead to 24-6 with two tries, including a controversial tap-forward effort from halfback Shaun Johnson.

From here, it was down the Warriors famous ability to lose unloseable games in the final twenty minutes. The Titans found a second wind and put on two tries to close the gap to six with Idris bagging his second and Zillman also scoring a great four-pointer, but it was to be the Warriors day, working into a safe position late in the match for Johnson to nail a field goal.

The seven point buffer ultimately saved the hosts, with Anthony Don scoring for the Titans on fulltime.

Next week will see the Warriors transfer a home game south to the national capital, Wellington. The Bulldogs are the visiting side. The Titans will head home to host St George Illawarra at Skilled Park.

Match Details
New Zealand Warriors 25 Gold Coast Titans 24
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Crowd: 9,465
Halftime Score: New Zealand Warriors 16-6

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Shaun Johnson
2 points - Jamal Idris
1 point - Feleti Mateo

Tries: Manu Vatuvei, Shaun Johnson, Feleti Mateo, Bill Tupou, Ben Henry
Field Goals: Shaun Johnson (1/1)
Conversions: Shaun Johnson (2/5)

Tries: Jamal Idris (2), William Zillman, Anthony Don
Conversions: Aidan Sezer (4/4)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

Warriors: 1. Kevin Locke 2. Bill Tupou 3. Jerome Ropati 4. Ben Henry 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Thomas Leuluai 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Sam Rapira 9. Nathan Friend 10. Russell Packer 11. Feleti Mateo 12. Simon Mannering 13. Todd Lowrie
Interchange: 14. Ben Matulino 15. Jacob Lillyman 16. Elijah Taylor 17. Pita Godinet

Titans: 1. William Zillman 18. Steve Michaels 19. Brad Takairangi 4. Jamal Idris 5. Anthony Don 6. Aidan Sezer 7. Albert Kelly 8. Luke Douglas 9. Beau Falloon 10. Luke Bailey 11. Greg Bird 12. Mark Minichiello 13. Nate Myles
Interchange: 14. David Taylor 15. Mark Ioane 16. Ryan James 17. Sam Irwin
A big game for the last-placed Warriors today at home. They've been challenging most of their opponents this season but just lack the finishing. The Titans sit comfortably in the lower half of the top eight and will be looking to keep pace with the competition frontrunners today, despite a flogging at the hands of Newcastle last week.
TEAM NEWS - not a lot to report today. The Warriors are 1-17 meaning Ngani Laumape drops off a five man bench. For the Titans, winger Kevin Gordon is OUT, replaced by 18. Steve Michaels. There's also a jersey change with Brad Takairangi now in #19. Kickoff in five minutes.
Rain and wind the name of the game at Mt Smart today. The inclement weather has certainly impacted the crowd. Gold Coast are out there in their white away strip, the Warriors now join them, wearing their regular black strip with red and white vees.
We are underway, Titans with the ball first running right to left on your update screen. Warriors will have the wind behind them in the first half.
1 min: Early PENALTY to the Titans. Hand on the ball in the ruck.
3 min: First set on the Warriors line for the Titans, they are held on the last and it's a handover. Good defence from the hosts.
3 min: Shaun Johnson kicks early in the set attempting a 40/20, but it doesn't go near the touchline.
4 min: Titans error just inside the Warriors half. NZ come away with the ball now.
5 min: Warriors with a cross-field kick, Tupou flying through but it's taken well by Michaels. He's tackled just inside the field of play.
6 min: Ordinary set in attack from the Titans, they're forced to kick from 35m and Locke takes the ball and has it to halfway for tackle one.
6 min: The Warriors send the ball wide, Manu Vatuvei steaming down the touchline... Anthony Don and Albert Kelly combine to knock him into touch.
8 min: Poor kicking game from the Titans thus far, straight down the middle and failing to trouble the Warriors back three.
9 min: Warriors error, Todd Lowrie spills a Shaun Johnson short-ball on the Titans 30m. Gold Coast scrum.
10 min: Warriors receive their first penalty, Johnson puts in a huge kick from inside his own half, their set to start 30m out.
11 min: VIDEO REFEREE possible Warriors try to Manu Vatuvei. Robinson says try, wants touchline checked. Looks good...
Scored by Manu Vatuvei. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson unsuccessful.
Quick hands out to Vatuvei - this time his power and strength is too much and he puts it down in the corner. Johnson's sideline conversion is waved away.
New Zealand Warriors 4-0
15 min: VIDEO REFEREE another possible Warriors try. Robinson again gives the "T" symbol, checking for onside. Mateo the scorer, looks okay again...
Scored by Feleti Mateo. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
The Warriors bomb for Vatuvei's wing, it comes down 10m short of the line where Vatuvei taps it back to Mateo steaming through, easy as you like! Johnson much easier attempt makes it 10-0.
New Zealand Warriors 10-0
17 min: Mateo finds a gap down the right side and powers through it, looks for support on the outside - throws it to Tupou but he can't quite handle the pill. Titans scrum on their own 20m.
21 min: Titans error, Warriors with it inside the opposition half now.
22 min: And another. Double knock on, Warriors scrum inside the Titans' 20m.
23 min: Warriors force a line drop-out out of the Titans, Steve Michaels pushing a Johnson grubber dead.
24 min: Vatuvei comes within a whisker of scoring a double! Mateo grubbers for him in the corner but the ball just beats him touch in-goal. Titans 20m restart.
25 min: Titans with relieving back-to-back penalties, they now have a chance to attack.
26 min: Titans manage to get a tackle count restart with a Warriors' hand touching the ball.
Scored by Jamal Idris. Conversion attempt by Aidan Sezer successful.
Attempt one at throwing a big man over the line ends with Ryan James getting smashed, but they spread it wide on the next play and it's big Jamal who overpowers several defenders to score in the corner. Sezer nails a great sideline conversion!
New Zealand Warriors 10-6
30 min: Warriors with a penalty just near halfway.... another brilliant touchfinder by Johnson means the set starts just 10m out!
Scored by Bill Tupou. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
Superb play from the Warriors outside men and it's another try! Henry takes the line on, draws defenders and offloads to Tupou out wide, who then improves the position. Johnson makes the margin ten points once again with the conversion.
New Zealand Warriors 16-6
Shaun Johnson kicks a 40/20.
Brilliant. Johnson's second attempt at this kick produces the goods. Steve Michaels no chance of saving that one. Warriors scrum 10m out.
35 min: Jerome Ropati spills it on tackle one. Terrible waste of the 40/20.
37 min: Warriors penalty again. Set starts 40m out.
37 min: And tackle two this time, it's Mateo spilling it trying to play the ball too quick.
39 min: Titans penalty, they'll have a chance to strike back before the halftime siren.
HALFTIME at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland. The Warriors are dominating, leading 16-6 after having the wind at their backs for the first forty. We'll find out in a few minutes whether the Titans can take advantage of it in the second half, stay with us.
41 min: We're back underway at Mt Smart. Warriors have it to start off, running right to left in the second half.
41 min: Johnson puts it high at the end of the first set... and it's out on the full.
43 min: Titans force a line drop-out with Vatuvei catching the ball on the full just millimetres in the field of play. He's forced back in-goal by the chasers.
44 min: Titans error, then a tackle later, Ryan James has broken the 10m early. Penalty Warriors. And another penalty two plays on - Dave Taylor up-ends Feleti Mateo. Taylor is now ON REPORT for a spear tackle.
45 min: Warriors looking dangerous out wide, ultimately Locke traps Vatuvei with an inside ball which sees the big winger forced into touch. Good sliding defence from the Titans.
46 min: Another Titans error. Greg Bird not happy with himself after that one. Warriors scrum inside Titans' 30m.
48 min: Last tackle Warriors... they play hot potato and lose 20 metres on the final play, finally with Locke spilling it and a handover.
49 min: Dave Taylor costing his side again, terrible attempt at playing the ball. Warriors scrum on halfway.
49 min: It's ON! All the players involved after Mannering and James come together after a dodgy looking tackle. Greg Bird and Ben Matulino both risk being binned after rushing in, but Robinson is happy to just penalise the Titans.
50 min: The Warriors attack looking very unstructured and their opposition are just looking to put big hits on. A Johnson grubber traps Michaels in-goal.
51 min: WOW. The line dropout keeps bouncing and isn't picked up til the 20m line... an eighty metre kick!
52 min: VIDEO REFEREE possible Warriors try. Gavin Reynolds with the "T" symbol. Shaun Johnson's gone in to score, but there's a question as to whether he's propelled it forward to gain advantage.
Scored by Shaun Johnson. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson unsuccessful.
Shaun Johnson's scored here, although there's some question as to whether he's tapped it forward deliberately. There's some conjecture about the late shot on Thomas Leuluai from Ryan James when he put the kick up. He fails to convert his own four-pointer.
New Zealand Warriors 20-6
INJURY: Albert Kelly's gone off for the Gold Coast, his head looks to have taken the brunt of Todd Lowrie's hip in an attempted tackle.
54 min: BLOOD BIN - Lowrie (Warriors) and Mark Ioane (Titans) both with some claret flowing. Titans will get a scrum after the Warriors spill it.
55 min: Penalty Titans 10m right in front. They tap and go again.
56 min: Greg Bird finds himself forced to kick at second receiver on the last tackle, it's easily taken by Bill Tupou in-goal and it's a 20m restart for the Warriors
57 min: Great set taking in the length of the park from the Warriors. Mannering featuring with a great break and offload. Locke grubbers on the last, Michaels again forced to take it dead.
Scored by Ben Henry. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson unsuccessful.
The pressure tolls on the Titans defence - Godinet with some crafty dummy half work close to the line, flicking it outside for Ben Henry to score. Johnson's conversion attempt hits the upright and bounces away.
New Zealand Warriors 24-6
61 min: Titans with a good kickoff from the restart - Bill Tupou lets it go out. Gold Coast scrum 10m out.
62 min: An error from the Titans and they again fail to capitalise.
Scored by William Zillman. Conversion attempt by Aidan Sezer successful.
This game just got interesting! Brad Takairangi sprints along the touchline, putting a messy kick inside and it finds Zillman in support. Sezer adds the extras quickly, cutting the gap to ten points.
New Zealand Warriors 24-12
66 min: 40/20 GOLD COAST TITANS
Aidan Sezer kicks a 40/20.
Sezer's nailed a perfect 40/20. Not good for the Warriors - Kevin Locke is down untouched and looks like he can barely move. Medicab coming out for the fullback.
Locke is being stretchered off on the medicab, now back on the field we'll see Nathan Friend return at hooker with Pita Godinet likely to revert to fullback. Scrum to pack, Titans feed inside the Warriors 20m.
67 min: Penalty Titans now, they're now hammering the Warriors line.
68 min: Warriors withstand the pressure, Bill Tupou collecting the grubber.
Early reports suggest Locke's injury is a lower back problem, possibly a dislocated disc.
Scored by Jamal Idris. Conversion attempt by Aidan Sezer successful.
Idris bags a double! Great high kick centre-field from Sezer, the ball is thrown wide after it comes down and Idris uses that brute strength to cross out wide. Sezer's conversion is good as the rain really starts to pour, and the margin is now just six.
New Zealand Warriors 24-18
72 min: Greg Bird chip and chase on the last 30m out... he's taken out running through and it's another Titans penalty. Gold Coast coming home with a wet sail, the Warriors living up to their poor final-20 record.
73 min: Matulino saves the day for the Warriors, coming away with the ball.
74 min: Long range kick from Johnson looking for touch, he finds it 15m out from the Titans line. Visitors rush to form the scrum and stop the clock.
75 min: 40/20 GOLD COAST TITANS
Aidan Sezer kicks a 40/20.
He's done it again - this time on the other side of the field! Titans scrum 10m out!
76 min: Titans panic on the last, they grubber and Godinet picks it up, runs 40m... and passes to the Titans! Tense stuff here at Mt Smart.
77 min: Sezer spills it. Warriors have a set to drill the ball deep into the Titans half now.
78 min: Penalty Warriors with just over two minutes remaining. Field goal, dropout or even a try could be the go here...
Field goal attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
That's the game! Johnson slots the one pointer!
New Zealand Warriors 25-18
Scored by Anthony Don. Conversion attempt by Aidan Sezer successful.
A scrum for the Titans from the short restart... Idris with a dominating run down the right, then finds Don in support. Is Don, is good, it's a try to finish proceedings, Sezer converts, but they still lose by a point.
New Zealand Warriors 25-24
That's all she wrote at Mt Smart - 25-24 to the Warriors, able to hold out a fast-finishing Gold Coast.