The Warriors have kept their finals hopes alive after thrashing the Titans 42-0 at Mt Smart Stadium today.
The size of the win means that a win next week would leave them inside the top eight, although having to beat the Panthers in Penrith on Sunday is no easy task. But as far as this game went Warriors coach Andrew McFadden couldn't have asked anymore of his players.
The Titans had won only two of their last 14 games and their last five on the bounce. Missing a large number of their top players through either injury or suspension, for most of the game they looked like a side that would rather be enjoying the nice Gold Coast weather, than scrapping it out on a cold and windy day in Auckland.
The big loss to the Roosters last weekend put the Warriors in a precarious position and there were justifiable concerns that this was going to be yet another frustrating season.
However, they set their stall from the beginning, scoring their first try after three minutes. Dominique Peyroux made the initial break and soon after Ben Henry crashed through two tacklers to score.
Five minutes later Thomas Leuluai flicked a quick pass outside him to put Peyroux in space and the former Titan, who has played just three games this season, was in for the score.
Nathan Friend got his second try in three games in the 15th minute as the Titans defence was exposed again.
For a period after this the Titans got themselves sorted, were able to complete their sets and put pressure on the Warriors' defence.
However, they weren't able to come up with anything and in the 34th minute Sam Tomkins span out of two tackles for the Warriors' next score.
Two minutes later Konrad Hurrell was blowing kisses to his mother back in Tonga after Tomkins floated a small pass to the blockbusting centre to bring up try No 5 and make the score 30-0 at the break.
Six minutes into the second half Tomkins scored his 13th try of the season, to close in on Manu Vatuvei as the team's leading try scorer, who has 16 and just after Johnson was in for his ninth try of the campaign.
In the 55th minute Greg Bird and Ngani Laumape were put on report after a dust up between the pair. Bird twice elbowed the Warriors wing in the face and then Laumape retaliated by throwing a punch.
All that was left to be played for over the remainder of the match was whether the Warriors could win by at least 50 points to move to eighth in the ladder, ahead of the Broncos. But the Warriors fell off their game towards the end of the match and there were no points scored in the last 29 minutes.
So what does this all mean for the Warriors' prospects of a top eight finish?
It's as simple as that, because their two big rivals for the top eight are the Broncos and the Storm and they play against each other on Friday night and whoever loses that game will be having their Mad Monday a few days later.
NZ Warriors 42 (Ben Henry, Dominique Peyroux, Nathan Friend, Sam Tomkins 2, Konrad Hurrell, Shaun Johnson tries; Shaun Johnson 7 goals) Gold Coast Titans 0. HT: 30-0
AS IT HAPPENED
- Fairfax Media
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