TWL RD 9: FAST-STARTING WARRIORS CHOKE ON THE COAST

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It would be easy to blame the Warriors’ 16-12 loss to Gold Coast Titans on bad refereeing. The on-field rub of the green went against them, they could not buy a penalty and they were on the wrong end of one of the worst video ref calls in history in the first half.

But the bottom line is the Warriors were brought undone by their own incompetence after rocketing to a 12-0 lead inside eight minutes, immediately abandoning the tactics that had garnered the early advantage.

Bad, bad errors from their most reliable performers – and a shocker from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck that ultimately cost the Warriors the game – was at the crux of what can only be described as an almighty choke.

Just the third loss in their last 19 matches against the Titans, it had to rank among the most gut-wrenching to endure as a fan in several seasons when a win would have lifted the Warriors to the cusp of the Top 8.

The Warriors got off to the quickest start in recent memory, storming out of the blocks and capitalising on the Titans’ incompetence.

A dropped bomb from debutant winger Treymain Spry invited the visitors to camp up inside the Titans’ 20-metre zone early. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck bamboozled the home side’s inexperienced left-side defence to zip over for his 50th NRL try – and first of 2020.

Soon afterwards the Warriors exploited the Titans’ right edge, slick play from Peta Hiku and great hands from Ken Maumalo seeing the big winger dot down for his fourth try in his last four games against Gold Coast at Cbus Super Stadium.

Chanel Harris-Tavita’s twin sideline conversions gave the Warriors a 12-0 lead after just eight minutes.

But the Titans regrouped, finding good yards up the middle and forcing some errors. Their efforts eventually bore fruit on the scoreboard in the 19th minute following a poor read from Hiku, with TWL favourite Anthony Don crashing over.

The Warriors should have restored their 12-point lead, but for one of the all-time horrific bunker calls from Jared Maxwell.

An ill-conceived Bryce Cartwright offload sent Ash Taylor back-tracking and the half fumbled the ball back into the in-goal, but Warriors loan forward Jack Hetherington was incorrectly, inconceivably and inexplicably pinged for taking Taylor out before he forced the footy.

A 12-6 halftime scoreline was well below par for the Warriors given their rip-roaring opening. But the fact they had focused their attack on unimaginative play around the middle of the park when they had found ridiculously easy success on the edges defied logic.

The intensity ramped up in the second half but the Warriors struggled to gain any momentum or continuity.

A freakish piece of play from Tyrone Peachey in the Warriors’ in-goal produced a try for Sam Stone, but a relatively easy conversion miss left the Warriors two points in front.

The Warriors spent most of the second half on their heels but showed admirable resilience on their own line, rebuffing set after Titans attacking set.

With the ball, they struggled to get anything going, threw away possession countless times with pushed passes and errors, and could not buy a penalty – to the extent that even ‘Blocker’ Roach was bemoaning our misfortune with the officials.

But they still had the lead.

That changed when the Titans rolled the dice on the last with eight minutes left, running the ball before an awkward Don centring kick forced an error from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

The Warriors again defending gallantly on their own line, but Green was unable to get the necessary purchase to bat a last-tackle grubber dead and second-game rookie Beau Fernor came up with the match-winner.

Desperate late attempts to recover a game that the Warriors should have won well came up empty. It was certainly not an unfamiliar defeat for Warriors fans but harrowing nonetheless, particularly given their other defeats have been by plenty of points.

This was tight – and the Warriors kooked it big-time against an ordinary team.

It’s too early to say it’s cost Todd Payten a genuine shot at the full-time coaching gig…but crumbling in the incompetent manner we did hints strongly we need a different direction.

Update your CV please, Shaun Wane.

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