The Warriors extended their dominance over the Titans on Friday night with a grinding 24-20 win on the Gold Coast.
- 18 – The Warriors have now won 18 of their 26 games against the Titans, a club-best 69% winning strike-rate.
- 16 – 16 of those wins have come in the last 18 games since 2011.
- 1 – On only one occasion have the Warriors scored less than 20 points in a game against the Titans since 2011, in a 36-12 loss in 2018.
- 2 – They also won two of their three games against the previous Gold Coast incarnation, the Seagulls/Chargers.
It was a perfect way to celebrate veteran forward Adam Blair’s milestone of becoming just the third New Zealander to play 300 first-grade games. It was also the Warriors’ 600th premiership game since entering the Australian competition in 1995.
- 300 – Adam Blair became just the third New Zealander to play 300 first-grade games after Ruben Wiki (311 games) and Simon Mannering (301).
- 5 – He also became the fifth NRL player to bring up the 300 first grade game milestone whilst playing for the Warriors, after Ruben Wiki 2008), Steve Price (2009), Ryan Hoffman (2017) and Simon Mannering (2018).
- 5 – All five players have tasted victory in their 300th game.
- 600 – The Warriors have now played 600 club games since entering the Australian competition in 1995. They have registered 275 wins, 7 draws and 318 losses – 45 % winning rate.
The Warriors-Titans fixture normally enjoys a bumper Kiwi ex-pat crowd giving it a home feel for the Warriors when visiting the Gold Coast. Whether or not both teams’ patchy form of late – or the Friday 6pm timeslot – played its part in a low turnout is up for debate.
- 9,973 – This was the lowest attendance on the Gold Coast in the history of the Warriors v Titans fixture.
The Warriors started brightly with former Titans hooker Karl Lawton burrowing over from dummy-half in just the second minute. The rumoured gastro bug showed no lingering effects.
- 3 – Lawton was elevated to the run-on side for just his third Warriors start. He picked up his 4th try in his 13th appearance for the club.
- 9 – The Warriors have scored the first try in nine of their 13 games this season.
Halfback Kodi Nikorima converted for his first goal in Warriors colours.
- 41 – Kodi Nikorima became the 41st player to kick a goal for the Warriors.
- 1 – This was Kodi Nikorima’s first goal at NRL level.
Eight minutes later a forward pass by Titans winger Anthony Don only 30 metres out from his own try line gave the Warriors another golden scoring opportunity within the opening 15 minutes.
Some fancy footwork and an offload from captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck sent top tryscorer Ken Maumalo in for his ninth try this season.
- 6 – Ken Maumalo has now scored at least one try in the Warriors’ past six games following a loss.
- 5 – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has provided five try-assists this season, second for the Warriors and equal-third among the NRL’s fullbacks.
With the Warriors looking tired they conceded back-to-back penalties to give the Titans ideal field position to mount a comeback. And they gladly accepted the invitation with two tries in three minutes to halfback Ryley Jacks (his first as a Titan) and centre Brian Kelly, ensuring parity was restored.
- 14 – The Warriors have conceded two or more tries within a 10-minute period on 14 occasions this season.
The Warriors’ 10-point lead had vanished and showed the Titans were up for a real fight if they wanted a result here.
- 5 – On five occasions this season the Warriors have given up an early lead. On two of those occasions they ended up level at halftime.
The Titans suffered a couple of big blows with their best forward this season, Queensland Origin representative Jai Arrow, going down with what looked to be a serious ankle injury and failing to return. With the enigmatic Tyrone Peachey also sidelined, the Warriors looked to have gained an upper hand in terms of available troops.
Five minutes before halftime the Warriors earned a penalty from a Titans error. Isaac Luke slotted the opportunity to send the teams all square into the break.
- 19 – The Warriors have scored double digits before halftime in 19 of their past 21 encounters against the Titans going back to 2011.
- 4 – This was the fourth time these two sides have been level at halftime in the history of this fixture. The Warriors have gone on to win three of those.
Frustratingly, an all-too-familiar scenario played out after the break with the Warriors looking lacklustre in the early stages of the second half for the second week in a row. An error-ridden second half ensued from both sides. Some staunch defence from the Warriors was their only saviour.
The deadlock wasn’t broken until the Titans’ 64th-minute penalty goal due to a frustrating stripping penalty against the Warriors. Another dubious refereeing call seemingly went unfavourably against the Warriors and Tyrone Roberts put the Titans back in front.
But suddenly something clicked, the Warriors showing some of the resolve and attacking nous their fans have been calling for. As if they finally recognised the perilous state their season was potentially in, the Warriors went on the attack with two brilliant tries coming out of nowhere in quick succession.
David Fusitu’a must have been thinking his luck was finally changing sitting on the end of a huge overlap. But Blake Green decided to go on his own and slid through as a huge gap opened up, finding Tuivasa-Sheck on the inside to dot down under the posts.
- 5 – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has now scored five tries this season – the second-most by any Warriors player behind Ken Maumalo (10 tries).
- 4 – Blake Green picked up his fourth assist this season – the third-most for the Warriors behind Peta Hiku and Tuivasa-Sheck
— NRL (@NRL) June 14, 2019
Sustained pressure from the Warriors, and Green directing the play down their favoured left side through quick hands set Maumalo up with a chance in the corner. The competition’s form winger did not disappoint, with a classic one-handed put down in the corner.
- 10 – Ken Maumalo scored his 10th try for the Warriors this season. It’s the first time he has scored double figures in a season and a rate of 0.76 tries per game. Big Ken’s haul is in stark contrast to last season’s tally of five in 23 games.
- 14 – Going into this season, Maumalo had only scored 14 tries in his previous 64 games – an extremely modest rate of 0.21 tries per game.
- 2 – Ken Maumalo has scored two doubles in last five games after having previously never scored a double in his first 71 games for the Warriors.
- 40 – Highlighting the Warriors’ lack of points this season, Ken Maumalo is the leading point-scorer this season with 40 points from his 10 tries. The Warriors are the only side in the NRL whose leading point-scorer is not a recognised goalkicker.
- Peta Hiku threw the last pass for Maumalo’s second try, advancing his try-assist tally to a team-high six. In his 11 games at centre, Hiku has five try-assists – second in the NRL for the position.
— NRL (@NRL) June 14, 2019
Issac Luke, now the chief goalkicker for the night after coming off the interchange bench, nailed the conversion from the sideline. The Warriors led 24-14 with six minutes remaining.
- 50 – With his third goal of the night, Issac Luke became just the 11th Warriors player to have kicked 50 goals for the club.
Rollercoaster time for Warriors fans as Titans fullback AJ Brimson showed some electric speed to score out wide with four minutes to go. Then potential disaster struck as milestone man Adam Blair was sin-binned for a late hit on Titans five-eighth Tyrone Roberts, setting up a nerve wracking final minute for Warriors fans.
But the Warriors managed to hold their nerve with only 12 men, securing their ninth win from 13 games on the Gold Coast and keeping their season on track.
- 11 – The Warriors have won just 11 of their 29 games in Australia under Stephen Kearney since he took over in 2017.
- 3 – Warriors have won their last three matches in Australia on the trot.
The Warriors can take some positives from this game, however. The return to form of key players Tuivasa-Sheck, Fusitu’a and Green was heartening, while the enterprising Lawton showed his quality in a rare start.
- 200 – Ken Maumalo (284 run metres – a season high) and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (222 metres) both ran for over 200 metres. Maumalo is the NRL’s leading metre-eater with 2,381 this season; Tuivasa-Sheck (2,133) is seventh in the competition despite missing a game with injury.
- 2 – This was just the second time this season that two Warriors players have run for over 200 metres in the same match. The other occasion involved the same two players in the 40-6 drubbing of the Bulldogs in Round 1.
- 110 – Maumalo ran for an incredible 110 post-contact metres. He leads the NRL for the category in 2019 with a season total 788 metres.
If they can translate the desire and commitment shown in the opening quarter over the past two weeks, as well as their second-half defensive resolve, then they could start becoming a real threat. Their defence is improving and at times has been a real strong point for them.
- 6- The Warriors have now held the opposition to a single-digit score in the second half on six occasions this season.
- 7 – They have also kept the opposition to a single-digit score in the first half on seven occasions.
- 100% – Forwards Lawton, Ah Mau, Luke and Afoa all tackled at a 100% effiency rate. Paasi, Papali’I, Harris and Blair all tackled at a commendable 90 % or more.
- 459 – Isaiah Papali’i has made the most tackles for the Warriors this season with 459 (21st in the NRL), despite being stood down for one game.
Keeping some perspective, the Titans are a mirror image of the Warriors – brilliant one week, woeful the next. Their own worst enemy. A weekly nightmare for the fans.
- 5 – Stephen Kearney equals Andrew McFadden as the Warriors most successful coach against the Titans. Both have five wins from six games.
It wasn’t flashy, and at times refereeing decisions seemed to go against the Warriors. Realistically, they are still a long way off the top teams – but sometimes you can only play what is in front of you. Two points is two points, and that’s all that matters on the premiership ladder.