Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson has piloted his side to a 36-14 NRL victory over Gold Coast.
The 2014 Golden Boot winner set up two tries and scored two himself as the Warriors clawed back from a 10-0 deficit in sizzling style at Robina on Saturday night.
All up, Johnson contributed 20 points as the Warriors halted Gold Coast’s two-match winning streak and dumped them from the top eight.
“We only opened them up in the back half of that second half and that’s a credit to our forwards for sticking to the process,” Johnson said.
“It’s always fun when you’ve really earned something, it made it that much sweeter.
“A lot of people are going to look at this performance and say what they’re going to say but as a group I think it’s important we look at where we can get better.”
The Warriors took control after a thrilling opening half, delighting the crowd of 14,132 – most of whom were clad in black and clearly sympathetic to New Zealand.
Raymond Faitala-Mariner’s 52nd-minute try sparked their comeback while Konrad Hurrell effectively sealed the result with 15 minutes to go on the back of a grubber from Johnson.
Titans coach Neil Henry described the loss as a “reality check” after impressive wins over Wests Tigers and Canterbury.
“They ground us down in the end,” he said.
“I said to the boys it was a fairly brave effort in a lot of regards in the amount of defence we had to do on our own line.
“For the most part we were pretty good … (but) some of those tries are preventable.
“That’s defensive lapses we need to be better at but we did save some tries and handle their attack at different times for large parts of the game too.
“Their control was very good – that was a good game of football by the Warriors, they didn’t give us many opportunities.”
Already without captain Nate Myles, who couldn’t shake off a foot issue stemming from State of Origin II on Wednesday night, the night came at a further cost for the Titans with five-eighth Aidan Sezer (hamstring) to miss the next few weeks and Ryan James (shoulder) in doubt for next week.
The Titans established a 10-point lead in the first half after absorbing some early Warriors pressure and firing back with two tries in five minutes.
James Roberts crafted the first with some thinking on the run, turning what appeared to be a dead-end move into a genuine opportunity on the left.
Drifting across the field, he spotted new Titans centre Nene McDonald who then played an inside ball for Josh Hoffman to score after 11 minutes.
Gold Coast struck again shortly afterwards as Luke Douglas unleashed a rampaging Lachlan Burr, who charged through traffic and touched down under the black dot.
But from there the Titans barely had a sniff as the Warriors put on four unanswered tries.