It was a match that slipped away from the Titans’ grip before they had had enough possession to even think about mounting pressure against a desperate Warriors side that had their season on the line at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland today.
The iSelect Titans went down 42-0 after being behind 24-0 six minutes before half-time, with three of those four converted tries from fumbled kicks.
It is the first time in their eight seasons and 194 matches that a Titans team has failed to get on the scoreboard.
And the performance continues the difficult second half of the season that has seen just two victories in the past 15 games after the team was on top of the ladder. The slump has coincided with the club’s worst injury toll that reached its peak with 14 players missing with injury along with the suspended Luke Douglas and Albert Kelly today.
It wasn’t until the Titans had some semblance of a reasonable run of possession in the last half hour, when the result had been well decided, before they could compete, which they did well.
But it was all too late.
The Titans had a disastrous start to the match. They were behind 12-0 after only nine minutes when the Warriors twice scored tries in the sets immediately gaining possession from fumbled kicks deep in Titans territory; the first when Ben Henry slipped between Aidan Sezer and David Mead on the left and the second when centre Dominique Peyroux scored from a neat pass from Thomas Leuluai.
At 18-0 in 18 minutes, after former Titan Nathan Friend scored from dummy half after David Mead was left on the ground and Mark Minichiello lost his footing at marker, the Titans had had only three sets of possession.
It was 24-0 by the 34th minute mark after Sam Tomkins scored on the right and the next try again came from a fumbled kick. This time it was Tom Kingston who couldn’t pick up a clumsy but awkward Nathan Friend grubber after the Titans defence had done well to hold out a last tackle scramble.
Konrad Hurrell made the score 30-0 at half-time when he crossed in the 36th minute when he ran a straight line off Tomkins close to the line. Most of the five tries came from defensive misreads on the edges.
The last half hour was much better by the Titans after they conceded two more tries in the first nine minutes of the second half. The first came from Tomkins who latched onto a Johnson bomb and the other, the Warriors’ seventh try, was scored by Johnson in the set after the kick-off, after he got on the outside of Kingston and had too much pace for the covering Zillman.
The Titans finally had a fair share of possession in the final 30 minutes and showed plenty of creativity with the ball, and character, and stopped the Warriors scoring another point.
Brad Takairangi almost put the Titans on the board late in the game but it was ruled he put his right boot into touch in his last stride before getting over the line. That destined the club to its first ‘wipe’ in history.
There was little that could be said about the performance in which the Titans were made to pay for just about every error they made against a rampaging Warriors who can destroy any team when given the possession and space they received. The Titans were starved out of the match until it was a no-contest.
“It was disappointing our reads on the edges, they throw a bit at you with their shape and we didn’t adjust,” said coach Neil Henry of the Warriors’ tries. “We needed more than 50 per cent of possession against the Warriors and we had I think 38 per cent.”
“We had a lot of players out and their big guys did a number on us and Johnson, with the class he’s got, had all the time in the world,” lamented captain Greg Bird.
Warriors 6 (Henry, Peyroux, Friend Tomkins x2, Hurrell, Johnson tries; Johnson 7 goals) defeated Titans 0 at Mount Smart Stadium. Crowd: 13,540.