League: Bold effort brings another defeat

By Peter Jessup

Titans 36
Warriors 24

Another away game, another heavy defeat, but there was less ignominy in the Warriors' loss on the Gold Coast last night than in their three previous losses in Australia.

They played with commitment and were competitive throughout. But they were always behind on the scoreboard, thanks both to the outstanding kicking game from Titans halfback Scott Prince and to some poor refereeing decisions that led to tries after a forward pass and an incorrect offside call.

There is more injury woe, with big wing Manu Vatuvei's hurt leg to be assessed today - the early signs were that he may have a fracture and could miss some weeks.

Leadership clearly remains a problem, with injured captain Steve Price travelling with the side as a motivator. His return, expected in their next away game to Penrith in a fortnight, can't come soon enough. Brother-in-law Brent Tate stepped up yesterday, having his best game for the club so far.

Coach Ivan Cleary tried a different strategy, starting Evarn Tuimavave at prop and bringing Ruben Wiki from the bench after 25 minutes.

Micheal Luck was starting captain and it was he who scored their first points off a Nathan Fien chip to the in-goal.

The Titans had a 10-point start off a Prince chip to goal then a touchdown to wing Ben Jeffrey that came from a well-forward pass off Luke O'Dwyer.

All week the Warriors had planned to muscle up in the face of adversity so it showed promise when they scored next after referee Steve Lyons allowed that try without referral to the video. Cleary believed they were much better in that area yesterday but again there were clock-off times, more improvement was necessary.

"It was a case of gifting them points. We made some bad decisions and there was some bad defence early on. But 30-12 down I thought we really hung in well, we just couldn't claw our way back," Cleary said.

It was a tremendous first 40 minutes, loads of intensity, some outstanding individual plays.

All the first-half points came after turnovers or repeat sets of six.

The difference was Preston Campbell, who twice was allowed to run, first setting up a try for prop Brad Meyers after Wiki was penalised for not standing square at marker. This time the Warriors response under adversity was slow.

And so it was again when Brent Tate was called for playing at the ball in the tackle and a knock-on, the result another set of possession to the Titans from mid-field rather than in their own 20-metre zone. Fatigue was clearly a factor for the Warriors as Prince then set Campbell away on a 50m solo run.

But they finished strongly, Wiki bouncing off the posts then held out, Vatuvei scoring from a long ball off five-eighth Michael Witt, still pressing on attack as the hooter went.

The Warriors were down 24-12 at the break but providing lots of reasons to believe they could still win. The main reason for the score deficit was missed tackles, 15 to five.

Referee Lyons made another poor call early in the second half, ruling that Brent Tate had deliberately taken a ball in an offside position, giving the Titans a penalty and good field position instead of a scrum. The Warriors were slow to react again and Anthony Laffranchi scored.

With the Titans 30-12 up, it was too much to expect the Warriors to get three converted tries and too much to expect Prince and Campbell to score no more.

Witt's kicking game improved in the second spell. He scored from a solo through traffic on a bounce-back then kicked and regathered for a second and 30-18. Fullback Lance Hohaia made a committed try-saving tackle in the final moments.

But then Vatuvei, playing his best game of the season, went off in pain after a three-man tackle. The tacklers clearly heard a crack, given how quickly they summoned the referee.

Luck was with the home team. Campbell kicked then chipped again and Brenton Bowen scored out wide to seal the game.

The result leaves the Titans top of the table and five-from-five at home. There was no disgrace for the Warriors yesterday - the way the Titans played they would have beaten most NRL teams.

Warriors: Micheal Luck, Manu Vatuvei, Michael Witt 2 tries; Witt 3 goals.

Titans: Ashley Harrison, Brad Meyers, Preston Campbell 2, Anthony

Laffranchi, Brenton Bowen tries; Scott Prince 6 goals. Halftime: 24-12

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 23 Jul 2014 21:11:58 Processing Time: 2073ms