A first-half Dave Taylor hat-trick wasn’t enough for Gold Coast on Saturday night as the Warriors continued their torment of the Titans with a 24-16 NRL victory.
Warm favourites against depleted home side, the Warriors were made to work extremely hard for their seventh straight win over the Titans at Robina’s Cbus Stadium.
The Titans led by two points at halftime but it was the visitors who scored the only two tries of the second half much to the delight of the pro-Kiwi crowd of 18,753.
Konrad Hurrell produced the match-sealing play by busting off Brad Tighe and off-loading beautifully for two-try winger David Fusitua to cross for a 24-16 lead with 12 minutes left.
Until then it was Taylor, needing to step up with seven of the Titans’ best players missing, who had dominated the battle.
Overlooked for Queensland’s State of Origin team for the second straight year, the “Coal Train” showcased his immense power and talent with a blockbusting three-try first half.
Every time the Warriors scored in a tit-for-tat opening, it was Taylor who responded with a try of his own.
They came in a variety of manners but ended with the best on the stroke of halftime with the 120kg second-rower completing his hat-trick by finishing a length-of-the-field movement by going himself 25m out, dummying to his support, bumping off Sam Tomkins and swivelling over.
Beau Henry then kicked the sideline conversion for a 16-14 lead at the break.
But it was all one-way traffic afterwards as Warriors captain Simon Mannering gave his side the ascendancy by burrowing over in the 46th minute.
The Titans’ fourth loss from five matches sees the early competition pace-setters drop out of the top eight, while the Kiwis have resurrected their season under Andrew McFadden with their third win from their past four.
Adding injury to insult for the Titans, hooker Beau Falloon is in doubt for the coming weeks with a lower back problem that saw him replaced in the 16th minute.
The loss of half their starting side due to Origin, injuries and suspension, didn’t appear to hurt the Titans who attacked the Warriors from the outset.