The frustration building up within coach Garth Brennan has seen the Titans mentor launch a scathing post-game attack on his playing group, accusing them of playing “dumb” football and of being “mentally soft”.
Against a Sharks team already without Wade Graham, Matt Moylan and Shaun Johnson, the Titans were given an extra leg-up on Thursday night when Andrew Fifita was forced off after just seven minutes with a hamstring injury and fellow starting front-rower Matt Prior left with a neck complaint 13 minutes later.
Despite a disastrous start the Titans steadied to lead 18-10 at the break but were largely the architects of their own demise, coming up with panicked options in attack and ill-discipline in terms of errors and penalties as Cronulla scored 16 unanswered points to come away with a 26-18 win.
A visibly upset Brennan, whose team now has just the two wins through nine rounds, was succinct in summing up a final 20 minutes that began with the teams locked together at 18-all.
"Dumb,” was Brennan’s one-word answer.
"Discipline's poor, one-on-one missed tackles were poor tonight… some guys probably missed more tackles than what they made. That's attitude. Defence is attitude.
"There's guys kicking the ball on play four, penalties, discipline was poor.
"This one hurts. That second half was poor. We've got to be smarter. We're just dumb.”
For the third week in succession the Titans were unable to cope when the result was in the balance.
They blew a 14-0 lead to lose 30-14 to the Wests Tigers and after fighting back last Friday against the Cowboys fell away late to lose 28-14, North Queensland scoring the final 12 points of the match.
With a roster boasting enough representative players to be able to handle such adversity, Brennan took aim square at those of whom more is expected.
"We had some players out there that have played representative football and just didn't dish that up tonight,” said Brennan.
"They come with all good intentions but then when the pressure gets put on them we need our senior guys to stand up a little bit more and take control.
"We're mentally soft, and I don't like saying that too many times. It's a hard thing to hear and a hard thing to say.
"We're not a soft football team in general but when we get put under pressure we don't handle it well at all.
"We're mentally soft at times and we look for quick fixes. Miracle passes or kicks on play four and things like that instead of getting in the grind and keep completing and building pressure.
"Players have got to take some accountability on the performance. There's some talent in that football team but some of the players aren't dishing up what they're capable of doing.”