Aquis Titans senior forwards David Hala and Matt Robinson led a young and inexperienced team well from the front in their trial against the Warriors in Whangarei today.
The Titans side that included only Hala and Robinson from the contracted players list, plus four under-20s and seven Burleigh and seven Tweed players, competed well in going down 40-18 to a Warriors outfit that featured Isaac Luke and Manu Vatuvei.
The enthusiastic Titans side were behind only 16-8 at half-time – three tries to two – but the Warriors gained early momentum in the second half to run way to a 34-8 lead. The Titans then hit back with two tries, the last a gem.
The Titans had the worst possible start to the match with hooker Pat Politoni, who has NRL experienced, taken off in the first minute with a shoulder injury suffered while tackling Vatuvei.
The Warriors scored two tries in the first nine minutes, both to Raymond Faitala-Martiner who scored a hat-trick, but the Titans struck back with two tries in the last 17 minutes of the half.
The first went to winger Blake Anderson after a good shift to the let off a strong run by Hala.
Robinson scored the next, from a kick into the in-goal from Jamal Fogarty, to see the visitors only eight points behind at the break.
The Warriors scored three tries in the first 17 minutes of the second half to take command but to their credit the Titans never surrendered and started to chance their arm.
Eighteen-year-old winger Tyrone Roberts-Davis, who handled the step up in class well, scored when he picked up the scraps of a Fogarty kick. Soon after he showed great footwork and speed on the left touchline and then threw a good inside ball to fellow NYC player Morgan Boyle for a great try.
Robinson, who captained the side, was continually busy and did some good work in defence while Hala, who struggled with a knee injury last season, made tremendous yardage with his hit-ups and was physical in his defence which would have pleased coach Neil Henry who was watching on television in Alice Springs.
There were several willing performances from the Intrust Super Cup players including Luke Page, busy defender Hayden Schwass, Anderson, Sam Meskell, Sam Irwin, Fogarty and Sam Saville.
Warriors 40 beat Titans 18 (Anderson, Robinson, Roberts-Davis, Boyle try; Fogarty goal)
Ali Grant (Tweed), Blake Anderson (Tweed), Jarrod Tua (Burleigh), Connor Broadhurst, Tyronne Roberts-Davis (NYC), Jamal Fogarty (Burleigh Heads), Sam Irwin (Tweed), Kurt Bernard (NYC), Pat Politoni (Burleigh), David Hala, Matt Robinson, Morgan Boyle (NYC), Sam Saville (Tweed), Luke Page (Burleigh), Jed Cartwright, Daniel Schwass (Burleigh), Dane Clark (Tweed), Will Bugden (Tweed), Hayden Schwass (Burleigh), Sam Meskell (Tweed).