Des drought over as Titans stun Warriors on Anzac Day

Jasper Bruce |

AJ Brimson  starred for the Titans in their Anzac Day win over the Warriors in Auckland.
AJ Brimson starred for the Titans in their Anzac Day win over the Warriors in Auckland.

Gold Coast have finally claimed their first win of the Des Hasler era, snapping their horror run with a thrilling 27-24 upset of the Warriors on Anzac Day.

Fullback AJ Brimson starred for the Titans, who fought back from 12-0 down after eight minutes and hoisted themselves temporarily from the bottom of the NRL ladder in Auckland.

Arguably the most significant acquisition in club history, Hasler entered round eight on the equal third-longest losing streak of any NRL-era coach, a 13-game slide that stretched back to the end of his tenure at Manly.

But there had been a sense that a win was brewing for Hasler and the Titans, who withstood a late Warriors onslaught to secure their drought-breaking win on Thursday.

Des Hasler
Titans coach Des Hasler said all the signs had been pointing to a breakthrough win for Gold Coast. (Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS)

“If you look over the past month, we were probably building towards something, so at the end of the day we probably deserved to get the points,” Hasler said.

Preliminary finalists last season, the Warriors are now winless in their past three games, and for a second week running let their guard down after dominating their opponents early on.

“I feel gutted for the boys,” said Warriors coach Andrew Webster.

“They’re not playing the way they want to play right now, it’s pretty obvious.

“There’s no hiding that, the boys aren’t hiding it, I’m not hiding it. Just individual moments are killing us at the moment.”

The Warriors stormed back into the game late and had 22 play-the-balls inside the Titans’ red zone in the final 20 minutes.

But they could not find the killer blow, haunted by poor fifth-tackle options at close range.

“You could feel the desperation from the boys,” said Titans captain Kieran Foran.

“We just had to find a way to win, it was as simple as that. We couldn’t afford to drop that one.”

Brimson, deployed at centre, five-eighth and fullback through eight rounds, mounted a case to remain the Titans’ No.1 even after Jayden Campbell returns to fitness.

The first of Brimson’s two tries began the Titans’ comeback, the plucky utility supporting Alofiana Khan-Pereria down the left side to get his side up and about.

His second four-pointer came from an offload by super-sub David Fifita, whose own try had given the Titans their first lead of the day in the final minutes of the first half.

Brimson was equally valuable in defence amid the Warriors’ late flood of possession, first holding up Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, then grounding the ball in the in-goal to stop another certain try in the final four minutes.

Beleaguered playmaker Tanah Boyd looked the most confident he has this season, dummying to fool Jacob Laban and crash over for Gold Coast’s second try. He kicked a field goal to make it a two-score game against the odds at halftime.

Charnze Nicoll-Kolkstad
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad scores a try for the Warriors in the Anzac Day clash against the Titans. (Alan Lee/AAP PHOTOS)

The Warriors had appeared set to put a cricket score on the Titans when they crossed twice inside six minutes, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Addin Fonua-Blake each scything through some brittle Gold Coast defence.

But ill discipline cost the Warriors and invited the Titans to storm back into the game down their lethal left edge.

“Something special always happens on days like this,” Hasler said of the Anzac Day win.

“From the Titans’ behalf, the players showed a ton of fighting spirit towards the end.”

Fifita went on report for collecting the legs of kicker Te Maire Martin in the second half, with Brian Kelly also in hot water for hitting Watene-Zelezniak high.

AAP