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John Cartwright on the Titans' line-up

Gold Coast hooker Nathan Friend says the Titans have learned from their two failed campaigns and are much better placed to launch a tilt at the NRL Telstra Premiership.

The Titans have led the NRL competition in the previous two seasons before a combination of injuries and bad luck have conspired to derail their finals aspirations.

Despite successive losses, the Titans are in eighth place, just one victory off top spot, and Friend believes the squad is better placed this year to launch a serious attack on the title.

“It has happened in the past, but we have taken steps this year to nullify what has happened in the previous years,” Friend said.

“None of the guys here are looking at the past, we certainly have better heads on us this year and we’ll certainly come through the other side a better side because of it.”

The Titans have a more balance squad this year with season campaigners Preston Campbell, Scott Prince and Luke Bailey joined by exciting youngsters Esikeli Tonga, Will Matthews and Kevin Gordon.

Speed machine Gordon was named in the 2008 Toyota Cup Team of the Year, scoring 19 tries in just 18 games.

“With the likes of Kevin Gordon and Will Matthews coming through it is very positive signs,” Friend said.

“You can’t beat speed and Kevin has obviously got plenty of that.

“We know he can score tries, he scored about 1000 in the under 20s last year and there is no reason why he can’t do that in the first grade.

“All you need to do is give him some ball and I think he has proved his worth so far this year.  He is not afraid to roll the sleeves up and get stuck in as well.”

The Titans have suffered two narrow losses in a row at the hands of the Broncos (4th) and Knights (2nd).

Friend believes the two disappointing losses have served his team with a good yardstick heading into their important clash with reigning Premiers Manly.

“We are confident within ourselves and how we have been travelling,” he said.

“We have been in those last two games, we know we are not far away, but we really need to win these tight ones.

“We probably should have won both of those games.

“The competition is so tight that if we lose the tight ones, we’ll find ourselves in the lower half again.

“We really don’t want that and need to turn it around with a win at home.”

The Titans were missing Origin hopefuls Luke Bailey and Anthony Laffranchi last week, but welcome them back for the important clash with the Sea Eagles.

“Guys of those calibre you definitely need them in your side, but having said that we certainly had enough chances last week,” Friend said.

“Our attack was great, it was just our goal-line defence and backing up our errors was very poor.  

“We thought we had the best flow of the game for most of the contest, but straight after halftime they shot out of the barrel and just seemed to out play us in the second half.  

“They didn’t overpower us, it was just costly errors in the end.”

Friend said his side could not afford to make the same mistakes against a Sea Eagles outfit who have won two in a row and have never lost to the Gold Coast side.

“Manly will be confident, you can’t underestimate two wins on the trot,” Friend said.

“It’d be nice to go into the bye with a win and put the feet up knowing the other teams are doing battle.  

“It was a good spectacle the last time we played them, they just came over the top of us at the end, so hopefully all the fans will roll out and watch a reversal on Sunday afternoon.”

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