WARRIORS 26 TITANS 6
Attacking spark ... Shaun Johnson of the Warriors. Photo: Getty Images
INSPIRED by their captain's milestones and Shaun Johnson's brilliance, the Warriors heaped further misery on the beleaguered Gold Coast with a thumping victory in Auckland last night.
A sodden Mt Smart Stadium was a world away from Australia's tourist paradise. And the Titans played like they couldn't get home fast enough. They were outmuscled. Out-enthused. Totally outplayed.
Bill Tupou of the Warriors stops Mark Minichiello of the Titans scoring a try. Photo: Getty Images
The Warriors, by contrast, turned on a stunning five-try exhibition of wet-weather footy to halt their cold opening to the season and level the ledger at two wins, two losses.
Titans coach John Cartwright said the financial dramas which engulfed the club this week had not troubled the players. ''We are fine,'' he said. ''The group of players in there are strong. We are tight. It didn't affect us at all and it won't.''
Simon Mannering's 150th match and 50th as captain couldn't have gone better. The post-match cold ones would have been all the more satisfying after his second-half try.
This was a composed, almost complete, performance from the Warriors, who led 14-0 at half-time. Not once did they appear threatened. But it's worth noting the victory came against last year's wooden spooners and a club that's on its knees after revelations of $25 million in crippling debt.
There is speculation the NRL's newest club may fold and then start from scratch with a new franchise in the region. But, take nothing away from Brian McClennan's men after another masterclass from Johnson. The halfback had the ball on a string off the boot and his twinkling feet dazzled the mystified Titans defenders for two superb tries. Second-year blues? Yeah right.
The halfback's towering bomb forced Titans fullback William Zillman into an error and Elijah Taylor accepted the scraps to open the scoring. Tries to Manu Vatuvei and Johnson followed before half-time. Fittingly, in the 50th minute,
WARRIORS 26 (S Johnson 2 S Mannering E Taylor M Vatuvei tries J Maloney 3 goals) bt GOLD COAST 6 (L O'Dwyer try S Prince goal) at Mt Smart Stadium. Referee: Jared Maxwell, Gavin Morris.