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Titans, Penrith kick off Nines with a bang

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/02/2017 Matt Encarnacion

Gold Coast and Penrith have kicked off the Auckland Nines with a bang, scoring big wins in the opening two matches of the NRL pre-season tournament.

Titans co-captain Jarryd Hayne produced an early highlight for the Eden Park crowd, soaring to take a Tyrone Roberts bomb in the 25-4 win over NRL premiers Cronulla.

The try assist was one of three set-ups for the halves candidate, who capped off a strong performance with a second half try - including Hayne's - in the five tries to one win.

His main competition for the open halves spot, Kane Elgey, made a successful return from a year-long layoff following a knee reconstruction that forced him to miss the entire 2016 season.

Leivaha Pulu of the Titans looks to fend a tackle during the 2017 Auckland Nines match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Gold Coast Titans at Eden Park © Simon Watts/Getty Images Leivaha Pulu of the Titans looks to fend a tackle during the 2017 Auckland Nines match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Gold Coast Titans at Eden Park "I thought our rotation was really good, defending pretty well and our attack was awesome, we didn't give the ball up too much," Hayne said after the match on Saturday.

"I feel alright, another season so nothing too strenuous but it's just good to be back playing footy again. It's always fun getting out there first game.

"You're always going to be a bit rusty and a bit stiff but I thought we did great as a unit, completing our sets and getting to our kick, and that hurt the Sharks."

In the second match of the Waiheke group, Penrith's big-name recruit James Tamou upped Hayne by coming out with two moments of brilliance in their 28-18 win over Canterbury.

The Australian international twice showed off big right-foot steps and a surprise turn of speed to bag bonus tries in both halves.

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