Star halfback Shaun Johnson says the Warriors’ determination to hang tough is the most-satisfying aspect of their come-from-behind 27-18 NRL win over Gold Coast.
Johnson, nursing a thigh complaint, broke open what had been a tight contest on Saturday in Auckland with a brilliant solo try 14 minutes from fulltime.
He said credit had to given to the Titans, who didn’t trail until the final quarter.
“They scrambled hard, they were in our faces and they put us under pressure,” he said.
“Our ability to stay in it and to weather that was probably the most pleasing thing.”
The Warriors were just two points in front when Johnson received the ball 60 metres out and went on a weaving run to the tryline.
His effort made light of the quad strain he had taken into the past three matches.
“I’ve just wanted to make it to the games and I’ve been able to do that,” Johnson said.
“Obviously, after this week is the bye so it should be fine by the time we play again.”
The win on Saturday was the Warriors’ fourth in their past five matches to keep them on the cusp of the top eight.
It also helped to celebrate back-rower Simon Mannering’s 250th first-grade appearance.
Mannering stood in as captain, after regular skipper Ryan Hoffman was struck down by a virus.
The Titans were missing co-captains William Zillman and Nathan Friend, who – along with rising halfback Ash Taylor – were among four late injury withdrawals.
They also lost Karl Lawton early in the second half, the 20-year-old centre taken off on a stretcher in his NRL debut with a suspected broken ankle.
That left them down to 15, as interchange forward Ryan Simpkins had gone off just before halftime with concussion.
Stand-in skipper Ryan James played down the fact that the Titans ended up undermanned, saying it was lack of discipline that cost them.
“You can’t really blame it on people going down,” he said.
“We’ve got the fitness behind us with what we’ve done in the pre-season.
“This came down to ill-discipline and not being able hold the ball. We shot ourselves in the foot.”
The Titans made a spectacular start as former Kiwi Josh Hoffman returned a grubber 95 metres for a try.
Warriors centre Blake Ayshford replied with his own 80-metre effort from an intercept.
Titans winger Nene Macdonald and Warriors counterpart Tuimoala Lolohea then both scored to have the teams tied 10-10 at halftime.
The Warriors finally went ahead with the second of two Issac Luke penalties before Johnson made his decisive intervention.
After Bodene Thompson added the Warriors’ fourth try, Taylor’s replacement Cameron Cullen grabbed a late consolation for the visitors.