A season-high home crowd of 25,109 was not enough to steer a valiant Aquis Titans to victory as the New Zealand Warriors claimed a 24-14 win in their Round 22 clash at Cbus Super Stadium.
The attendance topped the 21,080 people who watched the Titans-Broncos clash earlier this season, but the premiership points eluded the hosts who missed an opportunity to entrench themselves well inside the top eight.
The Titans were right in the match when they trailed by just six points early in the second half.
However, the Warriors seized two intercepts to punish the Gold Coast with tries against the run of play.
Winger Anthony Don scored a late try to give the Titans a sniff but they ultimately ran out of time.
Greg Bird was once again a colossus for the Titans.
If there was a Warrior steaming onto the ball in the middle third, chances were Bird was waiting to intercept him with a granite-hard shoulder.
He finished the game with 153m running metres and 23 tackles to be the leader of the Gold Coast pack.
And the Titans would be more than satisfied with their new recruit, Jarryd Hayne.
After 18 months away from the game to fulfil his dream of playing in the NFL, the former Blues and Kangaroos star tackled with venom, produced a try assist, showed slick hands, an explosive right-foot step and kicks off both feet.
Hayne’s introduction to the game in the 28th minute coincided with a giant momentum shift in favour of the home side.
Before his injection the Titans had been troubled by the Warriors’ right side attack which had run in two tries to take an early lead.
Replacing Josh Hoffman at left centre, Hayne’s first involvement was a try-saving tackle on Bodene Thompson.
Before he had time to catch his breath, the code-hopper almost created a try for his new club when he soared high to catch a bomb, then managed a deft offload on his landing.
With a sniff of points, the Titans added to Ryan James’s early try with a four-pointer to Konrad Hurrell to set up a 10-10 deadlock at halftime.
But it was the Warriors who grabbed control of the match when they crossed for tries to Simon Mannering and a double to Solomone Kata in a mistake-ridden 25-minute period after halftime.
WARRIORS 24 (Solomone Kata 2, David Fusitua, Boden Thompson, Simon Mannering tries; Tuimoala Lolohea 2 goals) d AQUIS TITANS 14 (Ryan James, Konrad Hurrell, Anthony Don tries; Ashley Taylor goal) at Cbus Super Stadium.