The Titans know an 80-minute performance holds the key to a win in the final two rounds of the 2019 season, and they believe it can come against the Knights this Saturday.
The Knights are coming off a 42-point loss at the hands of the Tigers last weekend, and are looking to keep their season alive against the Titans on Newcastle’s annual old boys’ day.
Hooker Nathan Peats knows the challenge that playing in front of the Knights home crowd brings, and says the Knights having so much to play for makes them even more dangerous.
“I’ve played there a few times in the last round or second-last round when they have their old boys day, they get Andrew Johns and all those types of players there,” Peats said.
“The players always get up for the game, so it’s going to be a tough one. They’re playing for (Knights coach) Nathan Brown, obviously he’s leaving and I’m pretty sure they all like him, so they’ll want to send the coach out on a big note.”
Winger Phillip Sami says the Titans need to produce a full 80 minutes of effort to keep the highly motivated Knights at bay.
“They’ve come off a big loss last week, so it’s going to be a very tough task for us and we’re going to have to come in firing on Saturday and put an even better effort than last week,” Sami said.
“We had a good first half (against the Storm), but we’re going to have to play for the full 80 minutes, and we haven’t done that this year,” he said.
In the past three weeks, the Titans went into the halftime break down by only six-point margins in the Round 21 and 22 clashes with the Dragons and Eels, and were even ahead 8-6 against competition leaders Melbourne last Sunday.
On all three occasions the Titans failed to convert those good starts into wins.
The improvement the Titans have shown over the past three weeks since the loss to the Roosters can be put down to the increased focus on effort during training and games that interim coach Craig Hodges has enforced since taking over.
Peats says the entire squad can feel the improvement, but admits they are still a fair way off where they need to be to compete with the best in the NRL.
“We had a really strong first half, and then the first 10 minutes of the second half was really disappointing,” Peats said.
“We had an average set with the ball, then allowed them to roll down field. Then we turned it over on second tackle over the sideline with a poor pass, and they scored that set.
“We’re just struggling towards the back-end of games and holding that 80-minute performance.
“We lost our groove and it took us a while to get back into it.
“The last 20 minutes was a decent back-and-forth type of game. But in the end, Melbourne showed a bit too much class that we couldn’t handle.”