THERE were many pleasing aspects about Saturday’s win in Auckland, the first there by the Titans since round 21 in 2010.
It was the first time a Titans side has scored 30 points or more three games in a row in the club’s nine seasons. And it comes after there had been criticism about the team’s scoring capabilities.
On the reverse side, the long periods of tough defence has been impressive and that is why the players were disappointed the Warriors, who are at their best when they have to play desperate football, scored two tries in the final seven minutes and spoiled the chance of the Titans going three games straight without conceding a point in the second half.
Had Manu Vatuvei not got above David Mead, again one of the Titans’ best in Saturday, and tapped back a bomb to Solomone Kata in the 72nd minute and he went over to make it 32-22, there is a good chance the Warriors would not have scored in the second half.
In the past four matches the Titans have not conceded a try in the last 34 minutes against the Broncos, the last 44 minutes against the Eels, the last 72 minutes against the Panthers, and until the Kata try had gone 34 minutes without conceding a point against the Warriors.
Coach Neil Henry says it was a tribute to the players’ hard work and belief in the defensive structures put in place in the pre-season with defensive coach Rohan Smith. And the new-found attacking punch was a spin-off from that defensive confidence and the attacking structures Terry Matterson has worked with him on.
In five weeks the Titans’ for and against has gone from minus 41 to plus one, which has the side in eighth spot on percentages.
KIERRAN Moseley’s effort was certainly an eye-catcher on Saturday. After Beau Falloon injured his shoulder early in the match and eventually going off in the eighth minute, Moseley had to play longer than he had planned but was outstanding.
He scored his first NRL try when he caught the defence napping in a brilliant burst from dummy half, showed an outstanding quick catch-and-pass to Kane Elgey for his second try and threw the last pass for James Roberts’ try after a Ryan James – outstanding yet again – tapped back a bomb. In defence he made 36 tackles.
KEY STATISTICS FROM SATURDAY’S VICTORY
COMPLETIONS: Titans 23/32 (72%), Warriors 30/37 (81%)
POSSESSION: Titans 50%, Warriors 50%
TRIES: Titans 6, Warriors 5
LINE-BREAKS: Titans 7, Warriors 5
OFFLOADS: Titans 13, Warriors 7
MISSED TACKLES: Titans 41, Warriors 18
PENALTIES: Warriors 9-4
METRES: Bird 168 (17), Mead 153 (10), James 148 (15), Don 145 (9), Douglas 116 (14).
TACKLES: Myles 53, Bird 38, Moseley 36, Douglas 35 (14), James 33,
LINE BREAKS: (7) Don 2, Roberts, Mead, Elgey, James, Moseley
MINUTES (forwards): Ryan James, Greg Bird 80; Kierran Moseley 72; Nate Myles 64; Luke Douglas 58; Matthew White 38; Eddy Pettybourne, Lachlan Burr 30; Matt Robinson 20; Beau Falloon 8.