A BRAVE Titans under-20s team showed plenty of character on ANZAC Day in Auckland despite going down 34-12 to the Warriors who have now convincingly won all four games at home in 2015.
The Titans went into the match with only 16 players after Jed Cartwright and Oshea Tuiasau travelled with minor injuries suffered at training the night before departure but were ruled out the morning of the match.
They led 6-0 after 13 minutes through co-captain Shaun Hudson and had an earlier try disallowed for a lost ball over the line by Karl Lawton.
The young Titans competed well with the score 6-all before the much bigger Warriors scored four tries in 13 minutes either side of half-time tear away to 28-6 six minutes into the second half.
The Warriors scored their final try, at 28-12, with just two minutes remaining.
The Titans effort was typified by Josh Berkers, who had to play in the centres and some back row, running 80 metres and running down a runaway Warriors halfback Erin Clark to save a try a metre from the line in the last play of the match with the game well lost (and injuring the Warrior in the process).
“I was proud of their effort; they had a real dig,” said coach Ben Woolf after the match.
Three of the Warriors’ five tries came from kicks, the other two from big men powering over from close to the line. Outside of the costly 13-minute period, the two sides were evenly matched and the Titans were the better and more constructive side for the first half hour.
Hudson, who played much of the game at fullback, had opened the scoring with a try in the left corner laid on brilliantly by a grubber from Brian Kelly after Braydon Torpy and Daniel Schwass had shifted the ball to the left. Hudson converted from touch.
The Warriors levelled three minutes later with big prop Toafofoa Spiley shaking off three defenders from 10 metres for 6-all.
Then came the Warriors scoring spree with tries in the 33rd, 37th, 44th and 46th minutes to make it 28-6 but the Titans never curbed their effort with their forwards particularly standing up to the sizeable Warriors boys and they went close to scoring a couple of tries before Berkers scored a well-deserved try after being one of the busiest and most physical forwards.
Warriors 34 (Sipley, Love-Henry, Ogden, Tevaga, Abbey, Oneone tries; Hingana 5 goals) def. Titans 12 (Hudson, Berkers tries; Hudson 2 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium.