Yesterday’s victory against Souths was another that showed that the Titans are a team they refuse to surrender when the heat is on at the back end of games.
Yet the coaching staff, and the team, will not be happy at the manner in which - at 18-0 just seven minutes into the second half - the Titans allowed Souths do what was the main focus in pre-match planning … rolling 70m-80m down the middle of the field in each set, and getting regular offloads.
All five Souths tries came down the Titans’ right edge, which will naturally be a focal point of video review this week.
However, the spirit and ability to come back so often is a tribute to the team’s spirit, belief and, without doubt, ethic to work for each other.
There were some impressive, and interesting, stats to come from the victory that point the Titans into the top eight on 14 points.
The quality and quantity of Ryan James’ work continues to be outstanding and consistent. In his 66 minutes on the field he topped the tackle count with 48, topped the metres gained with 193 and scored two tries.
That takes his tally for the season to a team equal best of five, level with second-rower Zeb Taia, with fellow prop Agnatius Paasi just behind on four with leading backs try-scorer Ash Taylor with four also.
Greg Bird’s effort in backing up from Origin I with a bruised hand was also tremendous. His workrate in his 61 minutes was excellent.
Ash Taylor’s ability to nail crunch plays is growing.
It was his awareness in following Agnatius Paasi’s opportunism in picking up a Greg Inglis drop just before half-time, and his pace to clear out from defenders, that gave the side a 12-0 half-time lead; in the second half it was his 40-20 kick that led to Tyrone Roberts scoring a try in the next set; it was his pin-point kick to the left corner that put Nene Macdonald in position for his incredible leap and offload from the ground for Josh Hoffman’s try; then it was his field goal under extreme pressure in extra-time that won the match.
He and Tyrone Roberts’ goalkicking remains among the best in the NRL. Roberts had kicked 16 in succession before missing the difficult sideline conversion of Hoffman’s try in the 78th minute while Taylor has missed just two kicks out of 21 attempts.
And there was a bit of history made too in the past two games by our ‘Hair Bears plus One’ – Peats, Paasi, Pulu and Pettybourne. Only twice previously had an entire interchange bench had four players’ whose surnames had started with the same letter - Wests Tigers in 2010 and Canterbury Bulldogs in 2006.
KEY MATCH STATS
POSSESSION: Titans 52%, Rabbitohs 48%
COMPLETION RATE: Titans 85% (39/46), Rabbitohs 70% (32/46)
ERRORS: Titans 8, Rabbitohs 14.
TACKLES: Titans 338 (missed 51), Rabbitohs 381 (missed 43)
OFFLOADS: Titans 7, Rabbitohs 13.
LINE BREAKS: Titans 3, Rabbitohs 8
PENALTIES: Rabbitohs 8-6
TOP TACKLERS: Ryan James 48, Nathan Peats 44, Nathan Friend, 33, Chris McQueen 29, Luke Douglas 25, Greg Bird 24.
TOP METRE MAKERS: Ryan James 193, Zeb Taia 176, Agnatius Paasi 159, Greg Bird 154, Nene Macdonald 148, Luke Douglas 138.
HIT-UPS/RUNS: Zeb Taia 19, Ryan James 19, Greg Bird 17, Agnatius Paasi 17, Nene Macdonald 15, Luke Douglas 14.
TOP MINUTES (forwards): Taia 88, James 66, McQueen 63, Bird 61, Peats 61, Friend 51, Douglas 39, Paasi 48, Pulu 34, Pettybourne 17.