The Warriors have spoiled Jarryd Hayne’s NRL return party, defeating Gold Coast 24-10 in Sunday’s crucial NRL clash at Robina.
In front of a bumper 25,109 crowd keen to catch their first glimpse of the Titans’ superstar recruit, it was Warriors’ playmaker Shaun Johnson who stole the show.
Johnson set up two second-half tries to break a 10-all halftime deadlock, as the Warriors (24pts) leapfrog the Titans (23) into seventh on the competition ladder.
Solomone Kata’s intercept try, his second four-pointer of the match – and 12th of the season, sealed the match for the visitors.
Hayne showed glimpses of his game-breaking talent, with the multi-million dollar recruit coming off the interchange bench to a huge cheer in the 28th minute.
The Titans’ investment in Hayne paid instant dividends to the club’s bank balance, with the attendance easily surpassing this year’s previous best home crowd of 21,080 against Brisbane in round five.
It’s the best Titans’ crowd at Robina – where they’ve averaged just under 12,000 this season – since 27,026 attended a qualifying final against the Warriors in 2010.
Such was the interest in the Titans’ new man that television broadcaster Fox Sports dedicated a channel to subscribers solely to following Hayne, including the opening minutes of the match when he was sat on the bench.
Hayne made an impact on his first play as a Titan, nailing Warriors’ backrower Bodene Thompson in a crunching ball-and-all tackle when he seemed destined to score.
The dual Dally M Medallist then outjumped two Warriors players to snare a bomb at the other end of the field, his efforts nearly ending in a try for his new team.
Early in the second half Hayne drove Warriors’ star Johnson onto his back in a big one-on-one tackle, the Kiwi international spilling the ball from the impact.
But Johnson had the last laugh, first sending Simon Mannering over with a clever short pass before then feeding Kata after David Fusitu’a had run almost the length of the field following an intercept off that man Hayne.
The ex-San Francisco 49er did finish the game with a try assist, Hayne’s 20m grubber resulting in the final try of the match to winger Anthony Don.
The Warriors host South Sydney next weekend while the Titans will be in Hayne’s old stomping grounds of western Sydney to take on Wests Tigers at Campbelltown.