PREVIEW: Titans v Sharks
The Titans players have shown an obvious focus and determination all this week to repay the faith coach Neil Henry has shown in the side beaten decisively in Canberra last Saturday.
They ripped into a 90-minute defensive session on Tuesday and look sharp at the last session on Friday, knowing two losses in their only matches between bye weekends can stall the momentum worked so hard for with three straight wins.
One key stat emphasises where the Titans have to improve when they take on a depleted Sharks at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday after suffering a second 40-point loss in nine rounds.
While only two teams have scored more than the Titans’ 34 tries this season (before the start of this round) - the Raiders’ 36 and Warriors’ 35 – Gold Coast, along with Parramatta, have conceded an NRL high of 40 tries this season – a long way from benchmark team St George Illawarra’s 23.
Eighteen of them have come in two matches – the 40-0 round two loss to Penrith and 56-16 drubbing last Saturday at Canberra – which has ruined an otherwise good display of defensive effort in most other matches.
“It was a little bit embarrassing in a lot of departments and defence is the start and we go from there,” said skipper Nate Myles of the performance against the Raiders.
“Something we didn’t take into last week was aggressive running and we need to be better but we have to start with our defence; they have speed out wide and big men coming through the middle and our defence is the key to start from.”
With noted defensive leader Beau Falloon injured it is up to Kierran Moseley and Daniel Mortimer to be resilient in the centre, while halfback Kane Elgey is weekly getting more adept to the physical demands of the NRL after six games since making his debut against the Sharks in round 4.
But it is the big men who are determined to stand up today with intent. There are three props on the bench in Matt White, Eddy Pettybourne and Mark Ioane which means Myles and Pettybourne will drop back to second row at some stages.
Dave Taylor will be a key. On his own admission, he was disappointing against the Raiders and is determined to put in a big performance in front of a home crowd.
Elgey trained on Friday after having a stomach bug and Anthony Don (hamstring) and William Zillman (hip) got through fitness tests fine.
HEAD TO HEAD
Played 12: Titans 6, Sharks 6.
At Cbus Super Stadium: Played 3; Titans 2, Sharks 1.
TRIES SCORED: Titans 34, Sharks 25.
TRIES CONCEDED: Sharks 29, Titans 40.
COMPLETION RATES: Sharks 76%, Titans 69%
GOALKICKING: Titans 78%, Sharks 74%.
MATCH OFFICIALS: Referee: Adam Devcich; Assistant Referee: David Munro; Touch Judges: Adam Reid and Belinda Sleeman; Video Referees: Steve Clark and Luke Patten. Televised: Fox Sports – Live 5.30pm.
TITANS: Hoffman, Mead, Roberts, Zillman, Don, Sezer, Elgey, Douglas, Moseley, Myles (capt), James, Taylor, Burr. INTERCHANGE: White, Pettybourne, Ioane, Mortimer.
SHARKS: Barba, Holmes, Beale, Ayshford, Gordon, Bird, Robson, Fifita, Ennis, Prior, Bukuya, Graham (capt), Lewis. INTERCHANGE: Sauiluma, Arona, Fifita, Tagatease.