Titans winger David Mead knew he was in for a long 80 minutes going into Monday’s clash with the Eels, with the Gold Coast speedster matched up against in-form winger Semi Radradra.
Standing 190cm and 105kg, Radradra cuts an imposing figure for opposition defenders, his record of 17 tries in 12 games proving how much of handful the big winger has been in season 2015.
To compliment his try-scoring ability, Radradra is one of only two players in the NRL to average more than one line break per game and also ranks in the top 10 for average running metres.
Despite statistics and size against him (Mead is 183cm and 92kg), Mead had one of his best performances of the year against the Eels, rushing up on Radradra to make several good defensive plays alongside centre James Roberts.
Mead’s defence, which has included several try saving tackles, has been a feature of his season. But he said the battle with his opposing winger was a big challenge and something he had focused on during the week.
“He was one of our main focuses during the week because he is such a damaging ball runner and has been in great form, so the whole team was focused on him,” Mead said.
Although Radradra had a significant size advantage, PNG international Mead said he had spoken with teammate Roberts about ways to combat the big Fijian.
“He’s a big guy and he runs hard and is obviously very strong, but I thought Jimmy and I did a good job of getting off the line and quickly getting up in his face and shutting down his space. That’s something we spoke about before the game,” Mead said.
“Playing on a big guy like Radradra does change the way you go about it, I didn’t want to let him get a run up because he would probably just run straight over me, so I tried to get up quickly on him and limit his space.”
With the speedy combination of Mead and Roberts improving every week, the return of five-eighth Aidan Sezer has only helped strengthen the Titans’ right edge. Plus Greg Bird caused quite a bit of danger for the Eels’ defence on that edge, after playing in the centre mostly this season.
Mead said the unpredictability and speed of Roberts is perfectly complimented by the steady hand of Sezer, proving a deadly mix for opposition defenders.
“We’ve got a good combination out there,” Mead said. “You can’t expect anything from Jimmy, he’s so fast and can beat just about any defender and he’s so unpredictable.
“Sezer is great, he provides a level head and is a good organiser. We’re building some good combinations out there.”
After a good win on Monday night against Parramatta, Mead said there was plenty of confidence back in the group and a great feeling amongst the players going into Sunday’s clash with sixth-placed Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park.
“It’s good to get a win and get some good team morale back,” he said. “There is confidence back in the group and hopefully we can take that into the game against Melbourne.”
The Titans were successful down there last season, with a late Bird penalty goal sealing a 28-26 victory.