MATCH REPORT v Warriors
The Warriors have finally qualified for their first Auckland Nines final where they will face the Eels after an exhilarating 22-4 semi-final win over the Titans.
Titans back David Mead told NRL.com his side had exceeded their own expectations by making the semi-finals, admitting they didn't help themselves against a dominant Warriors outfit.
"It's been a good tournament, especially for the young fellas, we didn't expect to come this far to be honest, but I am proud of the effort," Mead said.
"The Warriors are a quality side and if you give them the ball they will make the most of it. I think the home side is going to be too strong in the final, with the crowd it just gives them that extra energy, so I think they will come away with it."
In stark contrast to the first semi-final the Warriors and Titans produced furious running sets right from the kick-off and the Warriors were the first beneficiaries when veteran half Jeff Robson ran onto a Tui Lolohea pass next to the posts.
It was back-to-back tries moments later as Jono Wright intercepted a Matt Srama pass for an unchallenged run to the line.
The Titans continued to attack and created a chance down the Warriors' end but couldn't complete and paid the price when Solomone Kata scorched onto a Robson pass to run 50 metres and make it 16-0.
The Titans finally got on the board seconds before half-time as Agnatius Paasi started and finished a wonderful long-range team try to make it 16-4 at the break.
An early Titans chance in the second half was shut down when the defence forced them into touch. They earned another through a pinpoint midfield bomb from big prop Paasi which forced a goal-line drop out but Paasi himself lost it trying to offload. Yet another chance went begging when Nathan Davis was brought down just short and lost the ball.
After a few near misses for the Warriors Tui Lolohea iced the win when he stepped through the defence to make it a 22-4 final result.
Speaking post-match, Lolohea paid tribute to the crowd after the semi-final win.
"This is our first final and all of the boys are all looking forward to it, it was cool out there, the crowd were getting right behind us," Lolohea said.
"When we come out to warm up the crowd get us amped up and that's when we start realising it's footy time.
"It would mean a lot to us if we can win, we have played in it twice and come up short, so third time lucky hopefully."
New Zealand Warriors 22 (Robson, Wright, Kata, Lolohea tries) def. Gold Coast Titans 4(Paasi try).