We must build on our 'D'

If the old footy adage is correct – ‘get your defence in order and build from that’ – the iSelect Titans have a reasonable base to open their home-ground campaign against Wests Tigers at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday (2pm kick-off).

While the side will readily admit the attack was at times disjointed and too lateral, and they did not take enough advantage of an early glut of possession at Remondis Stadium, the willingness of their defence, particularly off their try-line, was more than admirable. When most tested while having to defend three successive sets after fullback Will Zillman was clobbered while attempting to take a bomb (and a penalty should have been awarded), the Titans held strong.

And co-captain Nate Myles' effort in making 45 tackles in his 49 minutes on the field set the platform; it was an inspirstionall performance considering he had not played since his limited game time on the World Cup tour.

The Sharks scored an early soft try on our right edge and the only other try conceded was from a good grubber kick to the posts. However, John Cartwright and his side know full well the Tigers will throw more at them than a Sharks side that was missing regular halves Todd Carney and Jeff Robson, back-rowers Luke Lewis, Anthony Tupou and Chris Heighington and winger Beau Ryan.

They may have finished second last on the ladder in 2013 and started this year’s campaign with a 40-24 loss to the Dragons, but the Tigers have genuine strike in pacey young fullback James Tedesco, centres Chris Lawrence and Keith Lulia, exciting young halfback Luke Brooks, NSW State of Origin skipper Robbie Farah and fellow forwards Adam Blair and Cory Paterson off the bench. And back is big winger Pat Richards who has returned from a long stint with Wigan in England.

The Titans ended a four-match winning streak with a 36-6 victory the last time the two teams met on the Gold Coast in round 21 last year, but that will mean for nothing here.

The Titans will have an unchanged 17 with Ryan James back to the Queensland Cup with Tweed Heads in his return from a shoulder injury.

And they would be expected to improve their combinations with the ball naturally considering the circumstances of their season opener. Hooker Beau Falloon was having his first run for the season and his tandem-dummy half partner Paul Carter was making his NRL debut.

Centres Brad Tighe and Maurice Blair were making their initial NRL appearances for the team, David Taylor was in a run-on role  for only the seventh since joining the side in 2013, Nate Myles had had no game time this season and fellow prop Matt White was in his first NRL match since 2012.

But coach Cartwright will want more authority and influence from his halves, probing from his hookers with the freedom the new ‘no wrestle’ edict has brought and more questions being posed at the defensive line when they get some attacking momentum.

After two great home wins to start last season – 36-0 against Canberra and 16-14 over Manly – the Titans finished with just a 7-4 home-ground record and are determined to improve that, generating a cauldron atmosphere with big crowds and making the renamed stadium a ‘graveyard’ for opposing teams.

“Our aim is to win every home game as a platform to making the top four,” said in-form fullback Will Zillman. “But to do that we have to be consistent and getting the vocal support behind us like our initial seasons can only help.”

A reminder that a special promotion is running all season with children 16 years and under admitted free in most parts of the eastern stand all season and a family ticket which provided reserved seats for an adult and child for just $25 or two adults and two children for $50 – value that we believe is unmatched in the NRL.

The teams:

 

Titans

1 William Zillman
2 Kevin Gordon
3 Brad Tighe
4 Maurice Blair
5 David Mead
6 Aidan Sezer
7 Albert Kelly
8 Luke Douglas
9 Beau Falloon
10 Nate Myles (c)
11 Greg Bird (c)
12 David Taylor
13 Ashley Harrison

Interchange
14 Matthew White
15 Luke Bailey
16 Mark Minichiello
17 Paul Carter


Coach: John Cartwright

 

Wests Tigers

1 James Tedesco
2 Marika Koroibete
3 Keith Lulia
4 Chris Lawrence
5 Pat Richards
6 Braith Anasta
7 Luke Brooks
8 Aaron Woods
9 Robbie Farah
10 Martin Taupau
11 Liam Fulton
12 Bodene Thompson
13 Adam Blair

Interchange
14 Cory Paterson
15 Ava Seumanufagai
16 Sauaso Sue
17 James Gavet
18 Keith Galloway
19 David Nofoaluma

Coach: Mick Potter