The Warriors have been sent back home across the Tasman with no more footy to play this year after they went down 28 – 16 to the Titans at Skilled Park on Friday night, the Gold Coast earning a free pass straight through to week three of the finals.
The Gold Coast crew started as the favourites for Friday night’s clash and despite their star fullback Preston Campbell ruled out of the match and a host of their other top players hosting injuries, they put pain aside and held strong for the home crowd!
The Titans are now the $4.50 second favourites to win the NRL Premiership through SportsBet
New Zealand got off to a good start when Aaron Heremaia scored seven minutes in with James Maloney posting the extra two points with the conversion.
Ten minutes later the Titans answered back when stand-in fullback William Zillman opened their account with his first of an eventual two tries for the night, pouncing on a Scott Prince grubber to score.
Scott Prince tied the score six all with his successful kick and supporters of both sides making up the 27,020 strong crowd were now fired up!
In a devastating finish to the first half for the visitors, the dominant Titans ran in three more unanswered tries in a stunning 10 minute stretch to take an emphatic 22 – 6 lead to the sheds.
First Clinton Toopi scored the home side’s second in the 27th minute, followed by Zillman completing his double six minutes later and then veteran Mat Rogers crossed again in the 36th minute giving him another great memory to retire with at the end of the season, and Prince kicking two from three.
Back from the halftime break, the Titans were first to post more points just five minutes in when they were awarded a penalty and Prince booted it through the sticks to extend their lead to 24 – 6.
Three minutes later the Warriors managed to narrow the margin by six when Joel Moon scored a converted try and New Zealand fans had their fingers crossed for a miracle comeback when the ever popular Manu Vatuvei got over in the 59th minute.
After Maloney missed the third kick the Warriors trailed 24 – 16 and with 20 minutes still left on the clock the black and white army were back in the game.
Unable to score again, however, New Zealand were forced to say goodbye to their season thanks to Zillman diving on a spilt Warriors ball in the 64th minute to save the game getting any closer.
Just 60 seconds later the result put beyond doubt when winger Kevin Gordon scored the Titans fifth try of the night in the 65th minute so the Gold Coast finished 28 – 16 in front.
The Titans will play the winner of this weekend’s second semi between the Roosters and the Panthers and to get behind your favourites to make it through the thriller visit SportsBet today!