The Titans continue to be their own worst enemies, with lack of discipline again costing them any chance of a breakthrough win in a disappointing 26-10 loss to the Warriors.
Hopes were high for the Titans after some positive signs in the previous week’s gutsy loss to the Rabbitohs, especially with star halves Ash Taylor and Tyrone Roberts finally returning to the field after long lay-offs with injury.
But the Gold Coast walked into a Warriors ambush at Mt Smart Stadium, with the home team fully focused, brilliant and ruthless after being humiliated by Manly the week before.
The Gold Coast needed to be at their best to keep pace with a Warriors team with a point to prove, but instead handed the home too many opportunities to give themselves a chance.
Once again, it took a big lead from their opponents to spark the Titans into life, with a penalty goal and soft try to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck within 10 minutes of starting the second half pushing the Warriors out to a humbling 20-0 lead.
But the Tuivasa-Sheck try saw AJ Brimson injected into the game at fullback, and the Gold Coast’s energy levels seemed to increase as they set themselves for the job ahead.
Finally able to build some consistent pressure with some back-to-back sets on the end of forced goal-line drop-outs, the Titans looked to have found their rhythm after a disjointed first 60 minutes.
Within four minutes, both Dale Copley (60th minute) and Anthony Don (64th minute) had scored in the corner to drag the Titans kicking and screaming back into the contest to trail by just 20-10.
Copley’s try contained some overdue luck, with Roberts grabbing a ricochet of his short kick before feeding Copley, who ran strongly to bump his way through three defenders to find the stripe.
But Don’s try was proof of what the Titans are capable of, with quality play and an excellent off-load from centre Brian Kelly – who had another strong game in attack – giving Don a narrow corridor to sneak into the corner and put the Gold Coast within striking distance with 15 minutes on the clock.
But again, the errors returned to frustrate the Titans, and all of their hard-earned momentum was lost.
When Tohu Harris scored for the Warriors in the 72nd minute, the final dagger was put into the Titans’ chances of winning their first game of the season.
The first half would have seemed frustratingly familiar for Titans fans, with some enterprising play from the Gold Coast continually brought undone by unnecessary errors.
Despite some rust, most notably in the kicking game, returning halves Taylor and Roberts looked sharp with the ball in hand, running with good energy and creating opportunities as the Titans looked to attack wide at every opportunity.
The forwards also performed well through the early exchanges, restricting the metres the monster Warriors forwards were able to gain through the middle, giving the Titans a glut of early territory.
But a lack of combination, patience and execution cost the Titans every time they ventured into the attacking 20-metre zone and, aside from a couple of near misses to Don and Mitch Rein, the Warriors were repeatedly let off the hook.
Eventually that lack of respect for possession not only allowed the Warriors to get off the hook, but it got them onto the front foot as well, marching into attacking territory as the Gold Coast defenders started to tire under an extended workload.
Unfortunately, the manner in which the Warriors scored their two first-half tries would have been like a bad case of deja-vu for the Titans, with the Warriors going to the edges to find space for tries to Peta Hiku and David Fusitu’a.
The 12-0 halftime scoreline would have been tough enough for Titans coach Garth Brennan to digest, but the fact his team’s error count stood at eight, with a completion rate of five from 13 sets, after just 40 minutes would have been even more galling, but an easy explanation for the Gold Coast’s scoreboard woes.
WARRIORS 26 (Peta Hiku, David Fusitu’a, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tohu Harris tries; Chanel Harris-Tavita 5 goals) d TITANS 10 (Dale Copley, Anthony Don tries; Ash Taylor goal) at Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland.