THE WRAP: Titans v Dragons
Missing eight players who have been regular Titans first graders this year, there was much to like about the character of yesterday’s win against St George Illawarra – particularly the second half performance.
What should be considered about the victory on a day where fans said farewell to Matthew White, Nate Myles, Aidan Sezer, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Brad Tighe, David Taylor, Beau Falloon, Ben Ridge and several second tier players, was the inexperienced of several of the key performers yesterday.
For Nene Macdonald it was his 21st NRL appearances, Lachlan Burr’s 20th, Agnatius Paasi’s 18th, Kierran Moseley’s and Kane Elgey’s 15th and Nate Peteru’s fourth. All will be at the club next season and will be joined by Junior Kangaroos halfback Ashley Taylor – showing what upside there is within the young squad.
Absent were those among the team’s most experienced men in Nate Myles, Greg Bird and William Zillman, plus Ryan James and chief playmaker Aidan Sezer.
Another element was the resilience in the second half, a quality that went missing for a period this season. The Dragons’ 90-metre runaway effort, when Gareth Widdop latched onto a James Roberts’ drop ball, was the Dragons’ only try of the second session after the Dragons’ three first half tries were ‘soft’ four-pointers from close range. The week before the Raiders could not score after the break.
While the Titans have conceded more tries (104) and points than any side in the competition, eight times this season they have let in one try or less in the second half (v Dragons 0, Raiders 1, Roosters 0, Bulldogs 1, Panthers 0, Eels 0, Broncos 1, Sharks 1). That shows the team’s capability, but inconsistency.
We became only the third side to score five tries or more against the Dragons this season – the Broncos scored six and the Knights five but three of them were when the game had been lost. So that shows the Titans’ capabilities there too.
The character was seen in the injury hurdles faced. Beau Falloon could manage only one stint of 30 minutes because of a back complaint, Eddy Pettybourne hurt his ankle early in the match yet battled on for half an hour but could not return, Burr had to get painkilling injections into his hip before returning for the last 12 minutes while James Roberts battled through more than half a game with a back injury.
The third straight win gave the Titans a home record of seven wins from 12 games (and improvement on last year’s three from 12) but two losses were by a point (Tigers and Sharks), one by two points (Knights), by six points against the Rabbitohs, 10 against the Broncos, leaving just two poor efforts – against the Warriors when the score was 20-10 with 16 minutes remaining, and the worst home performance of the season against Manly (36-4).
POSSESSION: Titans 50%, Dragons 50%.
COMPLETIONS: Titans 76% (28/37), Dragons 71% (27/38).
METRES: Titans 1589m, Dragons 1547m.
TACKLES MADE: Titans 283 (40 missed), Dragons 319 (34).
PENALTIES: Dragons 8-5.
TOP TACKLERS: Taylor 35, Douglas 30, Burr 29, Moseley 28, White 24.
METRES GAINED: Paasi 190 (15 carries), Douglas 181 (18), Roberts 157 (13), Taylor 120 (15), Hoffman 118 (13), Tighe 101 (7), White 91 (7).
MINUTES PLAYED (forwards): Paasi 80, Taylor 80, Douglas 59, Moseley 50, Burr 44, Faifai Loa 43 (some on the wing), White 42, Peteru 31, Falloon 30, Pettybourne 30.