A superb game from the New Zealand Warriors has spoiled Jarryd Hayne’s return party, as 25,109 people gathered for the Titan’s biggest crowd in 7 years.
Hayne’s Still Got It
His return to a Rugby League field had perhaps been over-hyped and over-publicised, however not many would have expected Jarryd Hayne to have the immediate impact that he did. After 28 minutes sitting on the sidelines, Hayne finally entered the field much to the delight of the crowd, and within minutes he left fans in awe, pulling off an incredible try-saving tackle on Bodene Thompson by throwing himself in front of the second-rower just inches from the line and cradling the ball. He then displayed incredible athleticism minutes later to chase a bomb and out-leap two Warriors to take the catch, with his offload setting the Titans up for a repeat set. Hayne did have one critical error in his game when he threw a loose pass on a set play which was intercepted by David Fusitu’a, with the Warriors scoring on the ensuing play. However, there were plenty of highlights for the Hayne plane, who displayed a full arsenal of skills. After being thrust into five-eight in the second-half, Hayne forced several Warriors errors with both a towering bomb and a powerful grubber kick, and he laid on a try for Titans winger Anthony Don with a deft grubber behind the line. He displayed his athleticism to out-leap Warriors players with ease and pluck the ball out of the air from a short kick off, and he left halfback Shaun Johnson to count his ribs after a crunching tackle that spilled the ball out. He’s still got a way to go before returning to the form that saw him claim two Dally M medals, however what he did after 2 years out of the game was nothing short of remarkable.
Tongan Centre Battle Lives up to Expectations
It was hyped as the key matchup in this clash, and although Solomone Kata’s two tries were vital in leading his side to victory, both Kata and Konrad Hurrell lit Cbus Super Stadium up with their own highlights in a mouthwatering battle. It was Hurrell who got the first points in the battle when he crossed for his second try in Titans colours, and the former Warrior was clearly ecstatic to get one over his old club. Hurrell then produced another highlight, showing amazing speed to chase down David Fusitu’a and bring him down just ten metres short of scoring a length of the field intercept try. However, the Warriors immediately shifted the ball to Kata, who crossed easily with half of the Titans side still getting back on side. Just 7 minutes later Kata pulled off the play of the day, intercepting an Ashley Taylor pass. Kata looked to be running out of speed as Anthony Don pursued him, so the Tongan simply turned back and put on the fend of the year, sending Don crashing into the turf. The former team mates showed there is no love lost after the match, and if the two can line up together in the centres for Tonga, oppositions will struggle to contain their combination of brute strength and speed.
Titans Feeling the Effects of Monday Night Thriller
After doing battle for 90 minutes in arguably the most intense game of the season against the top placed Sharks, the Titans were visibly struggling to back up their efforts on Sunday afternoon. The Gold Coast pushed the Sharks to the absolute limit with their quick line speed and strong tackles, however it was clear that they were struggling to bring the same intensity, with the Titans being described as lethargic by commentators. Monday’s battle clearly also took the wind out of the Sharks, who succumbed to their first loss in 16 weeks against the Raiders, just 5 days after their clash with the Titans. The knee injury that Tyrone Roberts suffered against the Sharks also took its toll on the Titans, as young halfback Ashley Taylor struggled to cope with the pressure of leading the team around by himself.
Warriors just Too Strong
Although the Titans may have been exhausted after Monday’s game, that is no excuse, and they were simply outplayed by a Warriors side who turned in arguably their best performance of the season. The New Zealanders were also coming off the back of their own 89 minute spectacle against the Panthers, and despite having to travel to the Gold Coast, the Warriors weathered the Gold Coast heat and the hype of Jarryd Hayne to put the Titans to the sword. The Warriors defence appeared impenetrable at times, and they restricted the Titans to just 3 tries, with the final one being nothing more than a fluky consolation try from a grubber kick. They appeared to have answers for everything the Titans threw at them, coming up with two length of the field intercepts that lead directly to tries. New Zealand fans will be thrilled to see their team finally rising to the occasion, and a finals berth now appears likely.
In the Sheds
Josh Hoffman (Head.)
New Zealand Warriors 24
Tries: D Fusitu’a, B Thompson, S Mannering, S Kata (2)
Goals:T Lolohea 2/5
Gold Coast Titans 14
Tries: R James, K Hurrell, A Don
Goals:A Taylor 1/3