The New Zealand Warriors returned to the NRL's top eight by exploiting a second successive Queensland side depleted by the demands of State of Origin.
Konrad Hurrell's first career hat trick boosted his remarkable scoring rate to a try per game 12 matches into his debut season in the NRL and ensured the Titans were unable to compensate for the absence of Greg Bird and Nate Myles as the Warriors completed an emphatic 32-14 victory.
Bird and Myles were sidelined after Wednesday's brutal series decider in Brisbane, an obvious boost for the visitors before the muscular centre's treble enabled the Warriors to climb a spot to eighth on points differential after the Wests Tigers' loss to the Bulldogs on Friday night.
The Warriors benefited from North Queensland losing four stars to Origin camps last weekend and preyed on another weakened opponent - Luke Bailey and Ashley Harrison were also in the stands - to secure just their third away win in eight attempts.
Hurrell completed his treble six minutes into the second half - the product of a superb floating pass by James Maloney - but despite dominating territory and possession throughout the third quarter the Warriors win was only sealed when Ben Matulino crashed over with 19 minutes remaining.
Although the Warriors took their time putting the result beyond doubt, coach Brian McClennan was satisfied with the Titans being held scoreless for almost an hour.
"We never let the Titans get over our line in the second half so we're pretty pleased with that," he said.
That achievement was aided by the Warriors enjoying the bulk of possession - the Titans made 60 more tackles and when they secured the ball their handling was appalling.
Their completion rate in the second half was a miserable 40 per cent.
"Hopefully it's a one-off," said McClennan's counterpart John Cartwright.
"I haven't seen those sorts of stats come out of a game for a half. We really botched the game ourselves."
The Warriors made a deceptively easy start to the match when Maloney breezed through a gaping hole between Aiden Sezer and Jamal Idris in the second minute to set up Hurrell's opener first but the dubious defenders soon made amends as the Titans produced three tries in 10 minutes as the home side silenced a 17,134-strong crowd dominated by Kiwi supporters.
Five-eighth Sezer's wide pass enabled Beau Champion to slice past Ben Henry and Omar Slaimankhel then Idris pounced when a Maloney pass rebounded from Kevin Locke's grasp and the former NSW representative put Kevin Gordon into the clear.
The Warriors notoriously fallible left edge defence was exploited again in the 22nd minute when grieving wing David Mead produced a sensational off-balance touchdown after Slaimankhel gave his too much space down the touchline.
Mead, who lost his father Stephen to cancer on Tuesday, was predictably enveloped by teammates as the Titans built a 10-point buffer.
It took playmaker Shaun Johnson to propel the Warriors back into the contest on the half hour when he beat three defenders from close range to score by the posts as the visitors turned their first goal line drop out reception into points.
The gamble to turn down a kickable penalty four minutes before the break then paid off when the barrelling Hurrell bullocked over for his second.
He limped off with an ankle injury in late in the third quarter but fortunately for the Warriors he was taken off as a precaution.
"The last I seen he was going around hugging a lot of people in the crowd. He seemed to be pretty happy, he'll be fine," McClennan said.
The Warriors head home before returning to the Sunshine state for the final leg of their Queensland triple header -- Friday's round 19 clash with a Brisbane Broncos side rested after the bye and settled in the top three.
Captain Simon Mannering admitted that match would give a clearer indication of his side's progress.
"It'll be a big test then. It'll be good to see where we're at, Brisbane are going pretty well."
New Zealand Warriors 32 (Konrad Hurrell 3, Shaun Johnson, Ben Matulino, Kevin Locke tries; James Maloney 4 goals)
Gold Coast Titans 14 (Beau Champion, Kevin Gordon, David Mead tries; Scott Prince goal)
- © Fairfax NZ News
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