Gold Coast 16 NZ Warriors 24
Warriors utility Feleti Mateo tries to get past the Gold Coast defence. Photo: Getty Images
Queensland’s forwards will have added weight on their shoulders in Origin I following the Gold Coast-Warriors game: 122kg, to be exact.
Shunned by the Maroons for the opening encounter with NSW at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday, Titans giant David Taylor tendered a barnstorming hat-trick in the 24-16 defeat to the Aucklanders.
Although his effectiveness faded in the second half, the 25-year-old Taylor will be the subject of a selection push if the Maroons suffer a shock loss this week.
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Taylor(3)||Tries||3||Tries||5||Players||Matulino, Johnson, Fusitua(2), Mannering|
|Players||Henry 2/3 (66%)||Conversions||2||Conversions||2||Players||Townsend 2/5 (40%)|
|Players||Penalty goals||0||Penalty goals||0||Players|
|Players||Field goals||0||Field goals||0||Players|
“He’s been building for a game like that all year,” said coach John Cartwright, who added “the Coaltrain” was not outwardly upset about his omission. “He’s threatened a lot and he’s had some really good passages of play.
“His first 40 minutes don’t get much better than that. If he continues to play like he did in that first 40, he’ll keep them aware that he’s there.”
But while Taylor’s strengths were abundantly clear in the opening 40 minutes, Cartwright reckoned there were lingering weaknesses too.
“As soon as he starts … in the second half there, trying to offload the ball and preconceives things, that’s when he loses his impact with the ball,” Cartwright said. “His strength is running hard with the ball and attracting numbers to him. The rest of the side starts to read him.”
After the Titans led 16-14 at half-time in front of an 18,753 crowd which seemed to favour the visitors, the Warriors hit the front six minutes into the second session then extended their lead with 18 left.
The Titans, competition leaders earlier in the season, have now lost three in a row and tumbled out of the top eight with Saturday’s defeat. They were badly depleted, missing both their halves through injury, their Origin contingent and the suspended Greg Bird. Taylor had clocked up his hat-trick by half-time, when the Titans led 16-14.
Chad Townsend’s pass laid on a try for Warriors prop Ben Matulino in the ninth minute, Taylor hitting back when Maurice Blair’s grubber kick was spilled by Sam Tomkins.
Video referees Bernard Sutton and Steve Folkes confirmed the Steeden had been grounded by Taylor, Beau Henry’s conversion edging Gold Coast in front.
Shaun Johnson scored a magnificent 21st minute try from near halfway. Late inclusion David Fusitua flicked the ball to Johnson, who accelerated past the Titans’ cover with blinding speed to score.
Taylor took two defenders across the line with him for his 28th minute try from close range; with three minutes left in the half Warrior Konrad Hurrell picked up a pass at his ankles to put Fusitua over in the corner.
That looked like being the end of the scoring in the first session. But Titan Paul Carter charged down a kick with a minute left and set sail upfield.
Play quickly swept to the left, where Taylor loomed up and barged over despite the attentions of multiple defenders.
There was comedy late in the game when the Warriors rekindled the ancient practice of actually pushing in the scrum. The Titans were forced into error and their prop Luke Bailey remonstrated with Perenara, saying “How many times have we heard ‘don’t push?’”
Perenara responded: “You’ve never heard me say that”.
Mannering later said: “The boys are pretty happy, actually. We did actually practise it at training. It’s something we can pull out from time to time. We’ll keep it up our sleeves I think.”
In another off-beat incident, Titans trainer Trevor Gillmeister appeared to spray water from a bottle in the direction of Perenara. The incident was not reported by the referees to the ground manager but could still be bought to the attention of the NRL.
The Titans lost hooker Beau Falloon to a back injury while Johnson suffered a minor ankle problem.
Cartwright was dismayed with penalties that gave the Warriors a mountain of second-half possession.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a discrepancy like that with one side getting the ball,” he said. “At one stage there ... we had 10 sets and they had 24.”
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden welcomed the control his team showed on the back of that possession.
The Warriors have not lost to Gold Coast since hooker Nathan Friend went from one club to the other. “He could be a Steve Menzies, play until he’s 38 or 39, he’s such a professional,” McFadden said.
WARRIORS 24 (D Fusitua 2 B Matulino S Johnson S Mannering tries C Townsend 2 goals) bt GOLD COAST 16 (D Taylor 3 tries B Henry 2 goals) at CBUS Super Stadium. Referees: H Perenara/G Morris. Crowd: 18,753