Recruits shine in trial match victory
New recruits Paul Carter, Brad Tighe, Maurice Blair, Christian Hazard and Kalifa Faifai Loa scored on debut for their new club as the iSelect Gold Coast Titans registered an impressive 36-18 victory over the Warriors at North Harbour Stadium this afternoon.
The Titans clawed their way back from an 18-4 deficit early in the match to run away with the match and hold the home side scoreless for the final 60 minutes of play.
Leading the charge was a host of new recruits, with Carter looking sharp out of dummy half and outside backs Tighe, Blair and Siuatonga Likiliki all showing some fine touches out wide.
Winger Faifai Loa also got in on the action in his first match for the club, scoring a try and kicking four out of six conversion attempts in an impressive 80 minute stint.
Former Rabbitohs playmaker Hazard was handed an opportunity to start the match after the withdrawal of five-eighth Aidan Sezer as a precautionary measure due to hamstring tightness.
The 19-year-old settled into life at his new club well, scoring a try late in the match to seal the victory.
Along with Sezer, the Titans also lost winger Steve Michaels in the build-up to the match also due to hamstring tightness.
Prop Ryan James suffered a shoulder injury in the opening quarter and will undergo scans in the coming days to ascertain the seriousness of the injury.
Carter made an immediate impact at hooker, darting over for a try as the Titans opened the scoring after just two minutes of play.
The Warriors hit back though and scored three consecutive tries in quick succession to lead 18-4 as the momentum of the game shifted dramatically.
But the Titans refused to lie down and it was another two new recruits that combined to put the Titans back into the game with Siuatonga Likiliki producing a nice flick pass for Brad Tighe to score.
Halfback Albert Kelly then danced his way through the Warriors defence to reduce the home side's lead to 18-16 just before halftime.
From there, it was all the Titans as the Gold Coast held the Warriors scoreless over the final 60 minutes.
iSelect Gold Coast Titans Head Coach John Cartwright said he was impressed with the defensive efforts of his side in what he rated as a physical trial match.
“I thought it was a really physical game which is good because a lot of trials don’t tend to be that physical,’’ said Cartwright.
“We gave up a couple of tries off errors against the run of play but I don’t think they scored a point in the last 60 minutes and we piled on plenty so that was very impressive.
“They are a very hard side to defend no matter who they put out there, so we went out there with a plan to try and limit their opportunities and try and keep our try line pretty clean and I think we did that.’’
Cartwright said he was impressed with the club’s new recruits as well as the fact that prop Matt White, fullback/halfback Jamal Fogarty and backrower Cody Nelson all made successful returns from knee reconstructions which had sidelined them for the best part of the past 12 months.
“We had three guys coming off ACL injuries that they did early last season so they haven’t played for 12 months and playing such a physical game is going to benefit them,’’ he said.
The Titans will remain in New Zealand this week ahead of next weekend’s inaugural Auckland Nines.
GOLD COAST TITANS 36 (P Carter, B Tighe, A Kelly, M Blair, C Hazard, M Beddow, K Faifai Loa tries; K Faifai Loa 4 conversions) defeat the NZ WARRIORS 18.