The Warriors have scored the only two tries of the second half to down the Gold Coast Titans 24-16 in their NRL match at Robina.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden hailed former Gold Coast Titan Nathan Friend as an ageless star as he helped continue his new club’s stranglehold over his old one on Saturday night.
McFadden believed 33-year-old Friend could emulate Manly great Steve Menzies and play until he was 39 such was his influence and vigour in the Warriors’ 24-16 win over the Titans at Cbus Stadium.
The veteran hooker pulled off the second most tackles and continually helped the Warriors make inroads in the Gold Coast’s defence in a one-way second half.
While playmaker Shaun Johnson and bulldozing centre Konrad Hurrell produced the biggest plays and rookie winger David Fusitua capped a superb match with two tries, Friend continues to be pivotal to the Warriors’ fortunes.
Since leaving the Gold Coast for Auckland in 2011, the Warriors have never been beaten by the Titans.
Their five-tries-to-three victory in front of a pro-Kiwi crowd of 18,753 was their seventh straight over the Coast.
While Friend was in the Titans camp, it was Gold Coast who had the wood over the Warriors.
“He’s a professional,” McFadden said.
“He looks after himself and there’s no reason why he can’t play longer.
“He’s got a year to go next year but he’s one of those guys who could be like Steve Menzies who could play until he’s 38-39.”
Warm favourites against depleted home side, the Warriors were made to work extremely hard for their third win in four matches.
The Titans led by two points at the break thanks to a first half hat-trick to Dave “Coal Train” Taylor, but it was the visitors who scored the only two tries of the second period.
Hurrell produced the match-sealing play by busting off Brad Tighe and off-loading beautifully for Fusitua to cross with 12 minutes left.
Until then it was Taylor, needing to step up with seven of the Titans’ best players missing, who had dominated the battle.
Johnson was replaced late with an ankle problem but the Warriors are confident he’ll play Newcastle in Auckland on Sunday week.
The Titans, already missing seven of their starting side, were hurt by the early loss of hooker Beau Falloon to a back injury.
After getting the run of penalties in the tit-for-tat first half, coach John Cartwright bemoaned the string of decisions that went New Zealand’s way after the break – allowing the visitors to set up camp in their half.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a (possession) discrepancy like that,” Cartwright said.