Des on the board after epic final stand sees Titans pull off Anzac boilover in Auckland


Did it take three attempts? What about seven? What about thirteen?

The Des Hasler era is up and running at the Gold Coast Titans thanks to a 27-24 boilover in Auckland, thanks to one of the all time great stands at the end, enduring almost 20 minutes of concerted pressure to take an unlikely win.

The Titans could have won their last two, losing to Manly in a high-scoring affair and to the Raiders in golden point.

They hadn’t won at all through seven rounds under their new coach, with only a bye to show for their efforts in 2024.

Hasler himself arrived on a seven game losing streak from his end at Manly and would have matched that in his new gig, but for this mammoth performance against a Warriors side who are now 3-1-4 to start the year.

He managed to find a formula that worked in attack – AJ Brimson, Tanah Boyd and David Fifita were all superb – but, after another start in which it looked like they had just met that morning, the Titans finally decided to show they can tackle.

Andrew Webster’s men have nobody but themselves to blame. They lead early, found it all very easy, then stopped doing all the things that had made them threatening.

The Warriors’ luck was out this time – they saw David Fifita not penalised for an attack on the legs of the kicker much like the one that allowed an easy two points to earn a draw against Manly.

Instead, they had all the field position they could ever want in the final stages, but were met by the most heroic resistance.

It took an age, but they got there in the end.

The Titans find it, eventually

There might have been a feeling in the air that the Warriors, who haven’t always impressed this year, might be vulnerable against a Titans side that might have won twice in the last two weeks.

Styles make fights, however, and the weaknesses of the Warriors were never going to be an issue against this Gold Coast team.

Instead it was a problem from last year that raised its head: a conservatism that held the Kiwi side back until midway through the season before being freed up later on.

This year, there’s a big issue around an imbalance of the right over the left, in which the better sides have been able to shut down the route to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

Against the Titans, who conceded five tries down their left last week, that wasn’t an issue.

The Titans fire back with a long range try to get themselves on the board! ????

???? Watch #NRLWarriorsTitans on ch.502 or stream on Kayo:

— Fox League (@FOXNRL) April 25, 2024

The best bit of the Wahs was up against the worst part of the Titans, and from the first good ball set, when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad strolled over, it was only going to go one way.

The next entry into the Gold Coast 20 saw Addin Fonua-Blake under the posts thanks to the Warriors running their second favourite move.

It was enough to make one wonder if the Titans have a video analysis department at all, and for the second week running, they were two tries down within eight minutes.

It’s a conundrum for Hasler that shows no sign of going away.

The left edge is by far the best offensively, with Brian Kelly immediately showing his worth in attack with a superb pass for Lofi Khan-Pereira from which Brimson scored and another that AKP finished himself.

Fifita, for the second week in a row, scored from a close range move on that edge as well and created another for Brimson. It’s their biggest threat and today wrote that in bold type.

It is remains a liability in defence, not least when Kelly is involved: Nicoll-Klokstad’s opener was, not for the first time, the direct result of a barry basics misread in defence that should be meat and drink for a guy who has over 150 games of first grade behind him.

The biggest question was why the Warriors didn’t go at them more frequently.

What a start to the second half for the Titans ????

???? Watch #NRLWarriorsTitans on ch.502 or stream on Kayo:

— Fox League (@FOXNRL) April 25, 2024

The Wahs play the long game and come up short

For the first half – the rapid start aside – this was like watching the Warriors this time last year.

They were ultra-conservative, largely uninterested in ball movement and happy to get to the end of the set and bomb Khan-Pereira, who was mercilessly targeted under the high ball.

There’s no shame in that, not least against a Titans side who will continually give you chances and can be relied upon to defend badly.

There was one error in the opening half hour, and that was a fourth tackle forward pass in an attacking area. Other than that, no punches were thrown at all.

The Warriors have their second try within the first 8 minutes! ????

They are looking DANGEROUS.

???? Watch #NRLWarriorsTitans on ch.502 or stream on Kayo:

— Fox League (@FOXNRL) April 25, 2024

Yet the score was level. The Warriors had a huge momentum advantage early and went into their shell asking no questions at all of a defensive unit absolutely there for the taking.

They invited the Titans back into the game through not attacking, assuming that they would have enough to win out in the end by playing the long game.

But the Gold Coast can attack, if given opportunity, and did so well. They can’t defend, but weren’t asked to do anywhere near enough of it until very late on, by which point they had something to fight for.

Had the Warriors gone for the jugular early, this could have been a walk in the park. Had they scored late, they might have got away with it again.

Make no mistake: this had been coming. For both sides.

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