NRL: Warriors unchanged for Titans clash

Shaun Johnson of the Warriors is mobbed by teammates after scoring the winning try to win the match in golden-point period. Photo / Getty Images.
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors is mobbed by teammates after scoring the winning try to win the match in golden-point period. Photo / Getty Images.

The Warriors have named an unchanged starting line-up for the crucial clash against the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday.

Off the back of the 20-16 golden point win over Penrith, coach Andrew McFadden has selected Tui Lolohea at fullback for the second successive week running with David Fusitu'a again employed in the centres.

The starting pack features prop Albert Vete and ex-Titans back rower Bodene Thompson, both late inclusions against the Panthers last Saturday.

McFadden has selected a five-man bench notable for the return of 2016 rookies Nathaniel Roache and Bunty Afoa.

Roache (20) comes in for Jazz Tevaga, his last NRL outing being the 17th-round 27-18 win over the Titans at Mount Smart Stadium on July 2.

Afoa (19) is in line for his fourth NRL outing, coming back into the squad after he also turned out for the Junior Warriors in their 30-28 win over competition leader Penrith last weekend. Ben Matulino, Sam Lisone and centre Blake Ayshford make up the rest of the interchange bench.

Saturday's combatants sit just one point apart on the ladder, the Titans seventh on 23 points and the Warriors eighth on 22.

They both go into this week's vital encounter on the back of golden point extra time encounters, Shaun Johnson clinching the victory over Penrith with his stunning try while the Titans drew 18-18 with Cronulla on Monday night.

The Panthers' match was the Warriors' fourth golden point match in their last five games and their fifth this year, both NRL records in a season.

Despite the added workload, assistant coach Justin Morgan said the team's ability to see out matches as well as the improved defence had been encouraging.

"While we've been in a lot of tough battles lately it has been pleasing to see the way we've been able to finish strongly," he said.

"Our defence has also been much improved. We're not doing anything any differently there from what we've done all season but it has taken time for the new system to bed in with the players."

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