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White-knuckle ride: Inside the Titans' drought-breaking win

After going seven weeks without a win to start the season, the toughest part of the wait for the Titans was saved for the final 15 minutes on ANZAC Day.

With the memory of heartbreaking defeats to the Raiders (by one point) and Sea Eagles (by four points) in the past fortnight still fresh in their minds, the Gold Coast found themselves in familiar territory as they clung to a three-point lead with a quarter of an hour to go against the Warriors. 

While camped on their line soaking up a late attacking onslaught in Auckland, forward Erin Clark said he and his teammates couldn’t help but obsess over the game clock, which at times appeared to be counting down at a painfully slow pace. 

“One of the boys was looking at the clock every 10 seconds and it just wouldn't go down any faster. I turned around and saw there was 56 seconds to go [when we got possession for the last time] and said to myself ‘come on, surely, surely!” Clark said following the 27-24 win.

We knew we were good enough, but to do it against a Warriors team of that calibre, in front of all their fans, it’s something special.

Erin Clark

“To go right down to the wire and the 80th minute, you'd rather win like that, a tough gritty win.  

“It was mate to mate. The last few weeks have been tough and the only people that really know how it feels are the guys next to you and the coaching staff.”

Warriors v Titans - ANZAC Ceremony

The Titans had entered Round 8 at the bottom of the ladder as the NRL’s only remaining winless team and were on the ropes early at Go Media Stadium, after the Warriors got out to a 12-0 lead with just nine minutes gone. 

But Des Hasler's men bounced back and at one stage led by as much as 15, before enduring a late scare from the hosts. 

While far from a must-win in terms of the Gold Coast’s mathematical chances in 2024, skipper Kieran Foran said from a morale point of view the trip to Auckland was exactly that.  

“We just had to find a way to win, it was as simple as that," Foran said. 

“We couldn’t afford to drop that one and I think you could feel the desperation from the boys.

“I’m extremely proud of the defensive effort at the end… we know we’d been unlucky the last two weeks, probably games that we should have won that we didn’t.”

Along with David Fifita, who changed the game when he came on from the bench in the 20th minute with his powerful running game, fullback AJ Brimson was the Gold Coast's outstanding contributor.

AJ Brimson Try

The 25-year-old scored two tries in Auckland and ran for 183 metres on his way to players’ player honours, which meant all the more to him on a night in which the Titans won back the Zae Wallace Shield, named in honour of Brimson’s former flatmate and U-20 teammate who passed away in 2019.

“He was one of my best mates and I think he was out there with us at the end there, helping us get the win,” Brimson said.

“It's very special; I love playing for the Zae Wallace Shield… I know he’d like this.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.