Warriors 30 Titans 6

Key Points:

A Grant Rovelli hat-trick of tries on Saturday helped the New Zealand Warriors to maintain their charge towards a National Rugby League playoff spot.

The Warriors, before their biggest crowd of the season by far of 20,609, beat the Gold Coast Titans 30-6, with centre Jerome Ropati chipping in with two tries.

The result lifted them one spot to fourth on the table, although North Queensland will leapfrog back above them if they down bottom-placed Penrith tomorrow.

There was some sparkling attacking football from the Warriors early on, but mistakes crept into their game as the Titans began to come more into the contest.

Defeat for the visitors, who began the weekend in 10th spot, two points outside the eight, was their sixth in seven matches and lengthened their odds of making the semifinals.

Rovelli's three tries took his season's tally to nine, making him the club's equal top-scorer with in-form fullback Wade McKinnon, who was watching from the sidelines.

McKinnon failed to get over an ankle injury, allowing replacement Todd Byrne finally to notch up his 100th first-grade appearance.

The Warriors made a superb st art, with two long-range tries in the first 13 minutes, both to Rovelli.

The first was set up by a bust from winger Manu Vatuvei, whose offload sent Rovelli on a 70-metre run that include a jink around fullback Preston Campbell.

Rovelli's second came after hooker Nathan Fien darted from dummy half 60m from the Titans' line. Fien's cut-out pass set centre Simon Mannering free and Rovelli was rewarded for backing up.

There was worse to come for the Titans midway through the half, when they turned the ball over deep in their own terriroty.

From the next possession, Warrior five-eighth Michael Witt's long pass created the opening for Ropati's first touchdown.

Witt's third goal of an eventual five in another 100 per cent goalkicking effort took the home side out to 18-0, just as rain began to fall.

The change in conditions appeared to slow the Warriors' momentum and they were unable to add to their score before halftime.

The Titans made the better start to the second half and finally got on the board seven minutes after the interval.

A turnover deep in the Warriors' half gave Gold Coast halfback Scott Prince the chance to stab a kick into the in-goal, and second-rower Anthony Laffranchi got his hand to the ball for a try.

Centre Brett Delaney added the extras and the Titans continued to get a good share of possession to put the Warriors under pressure.

But Rovelli settled the home town nerves with his third try midway through the spell after hitting a hole just out from the line.

Ropati's second effort, eight minutes from time when the Titans failed to defuse a bomb, added the icing.

New Zealand Warriors 30 (Grant Rovelli 3, Jerome Ropati 2, tries; Michael Witt 5 goals) Gold Coast Titans 6 (Anthony Laffranchi, try; Brett Delaney, goal). Halftime: 18-0.

- NZPA