Serious Injuries and another heartbreaking collapse added up to a Friday night horror story for Titans fans, as the Gold Coast suffered another Cbus Super Stadium surrender, going down to the Warriors 24-20 in their Round 14 clash.
The Titans, pumped up after last week’s massive win over the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, were again left deflated, with a golden chance to lift themselves off the bottom of the ladder against the struggling Warriors going begging.
Worse, workaholic lock Jai Arrow and backrower Tyrone Peachey left the field injured in the first half and did not return as the Gold Coast let a 12-10 lead in the 26th minute slip through their fingers.
Arrow’s injury looked the most concerning, particularly for Queensland State of Origin coach Kevin Walters, who was watching the game from the Fox Sports commentary box.
Walters would have been relying on Arrow to again produce the goods for the Maroons in Origin II next Sunday, but like Titans fans, he will now be sweating on the result of scans to determine the severity of the injury.
But if Walters is looking for a ready-made Maroon replacement for Arrow, he need not look further than Titans teammate Jarrod Wallace, who was again herculean in his efforts, tearing into the monster Warriors pack with 181 metres from 21 runs.
He was ably supported as always by Moeaki Fotuaika, playing out of position on the edge for much of the game, as well as backrower Bryce Cartwright in his best game of the season.
Shannon Boyd and the brilliant Brian Kelly out wide were the other Titans to impress.
The first scoring play of the game came in just the 3rd minute, when a powerful run by Agnatius Paasi built momentum close to the line, allowing Karl Lawton to burrow over from dummy half.
That would have been fine two years ago when both were playing for the Gold Coast.
Unfortunately the two former Titans are now Warriors, and their efforts – and a conversion from Kodi Nikorima – handed the visitors a 6-0 lead.
The Warriors were in again in the 14th minute with a try to Ken Maumalo, pushing the Titans 12-0 in arrears.
It was then that Peachey left the field with a shoulder injury, while Arrow followed in the 28th minute, clearly distressed by an injury to his left ankle.
In between the two departures however, there was some positive news, with back-to-back tries in the space of three minutes igniting the Titans and delivering a 12-10 lead.
Halfback Ryley Jacks scored the first in the 23rd minute, tearing through a gap created by Jarrod Wallace, who reversed into the defensive line and delivered a neat short ball to his circling No.7.
With the wind in their sails, the Titans marched downfield again, and a piercing run into the Warriors’ 30-metre zone put the Gold Coast on the attack.
In some of the most enterprising play of the season, the Titans went from the left edge to the right, and then back again, producing just about every trick shot in the book to shatter the Warriors’ defence again.
A blindside surge, overhead pass, runaround loop, flick pass and cut-out passes were all on the menu as the Titans feasted on confidence, and fittingly it was Kelly who got his just desserts by being on the end of the attacking smorgasbord to score the try.
Tyrone Roberts was faultless with both difficult conversions, and while the Warriors drew level again just before halftime with a penalty goal to Issac Luke, the Titans would have gone to the sheds pleased with their recovery after another false start.
But again, the Titans left their mojo in the sheds at halftime, with the Warriors playing with greater patience and desire to lead 24-14 in the 74th minute.
The Titans pegged one back four minutes from fulltime through a piece of individual brilliance outwide from AJ Brimson, who scored and reduced the margin to 24-20.
But the Titans were unable to find their way through the desperate Warriors’ defence, as the visitors honoured the 300th game for veteran Adam Blair with a deserved win.
WARRIORS 24 (Ken Maumalo 2, Karl Lawton, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck tries; Kodi Nikorima, Issac Luke 3 goals) d 20 TITANS (Ryley Jacks, Brian Kelly, AJ Brimson tries; Tyrone Roberts 4 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium. Crowd: 9973