Mid-Season Review: Gold Coast Titans

Position after 13 rounds: 6th
Wins: 7
Losses: 5
Byes: 1
Points: 16
Differential: -18


It’s a good sign when you are in the finals zone, even though the fact you’re not playing your best football. The Titans really haven’t found their feet so far in season 2010 although the word coming out of the camp is extremely positive after last weekend’s loss to Canberra.

Yep, the side believes the second-half effort in the nation’s capital, where they rallied from 26-6 down to lose 28-24, was the best football they have played all year and in their minds it will be the catalyst to greater things.

In all honesty, it had better be, as the side has lost three in a row and are on a slide down the ladder. Not long ago they were top two; now they are sixth and their differential is in the negative.

The next five weeks, during the Origin period, will make or break the Titans’ season. In their short history we’ve seen them freefall from the top of the ladder to the depths twice, but last season we saw them rally and play in September.

If they are to repeat this, they need to get serious… NOW.
 
Are Things Going To Plan?
Not exactly. The smell of drama surrounds the club, with all sorts of issues dragging through the media. First it was alleged salary cap concerns with Scott Prince and a supposed ‘free’ house, then it was more in depth with the club’s ‘centre of excellence’ causing legal and financial headaches with builders, creditors… even governments!

Those up on the Gold Coast will tell you this sort of thing doesn’t affect the players – but that’s bull. Whenever a story mentions bankruptcy or insolvency you can be sure the players have a level of concern.

On the field, the team won seven of their opening nine games – an impressive effort considering they were far from their best and missed Scott Prince for a section of games. But three losses in a row to close out the opening half of the season isn’t something they will be proud of. Their right-side attack has been strong and prolific but their goal-line defence has been brittle.

Injury Front… Scott Prince and Mat Rogers missed chunks of footy but the team managed okay without the veteran attacking weapons.

With Rogers due back for Round 14 the Titans cannot use injuries as an excuse for their current mini-slide. With basically a full complement at this stage of the season, there is no reason why the team can’t push forward into the finals for a second consecutive year.  

If Only… A magical wad of cash fell from the sky into the Titans’ coffers so they could pay off the money their supposed to owe everybody surrounding the ‘Centre of Excellence” and get on with the task at hand: winning a maiden premiership.

Away from that, the side would still be in the top four if it had won a recent home game against the Roosters. Usually tough to beat at Skilled Park the Titans were below average and were henpecked by a rampant Roosters.

An early season loss to the Cowboys now looks poor, as the North Queensland side has won just two other games, and their dismal first half in Canberra only needed to be a little better and they may have come back to win.

Who’s Flying… The Titans play as a pretty tight unit, which means one particular guy isn’t necessarily standing out, but kudos should go to winger David Mead, centre Joseph Tomane and hooker Nathan Friend.

Mead is an out-and-out speedster whose game is coming along more and more each week. He is averaging 117 metres a game and has eight line-breaks and six tries at the halfway point of the year.

Niggling injury has slowed Tomane down a little in recent weeks (he’s out this week) but his attack has come along in leaps and bounds. While still a defensive concern, Tomane has six line-breaks and seven tries this season.

Friend is the ultimate professional. He has seven try assists for the year from hooker, and makes a million tackles a match.

Needs to Lift…
Greg Bird hasn’t quite lived up to the form he showed when playing for New South Wales and Australia a few seasons back.

Although providing good touches here and there, Bird is expected to be a dominant player in any side and he has yet to control a game this season. He is running a lot, with 106 metres a game, but needs more penetration.

He is by no means playing awful – his nine line-break assists and five try assists read okay – but the reality is he is capable of much more, even in the offload department. His 29 offloads is great for most players, but Bird is capable of better.

Coach John Cartwright tells NRL.com… “Our form has dropped a little in recent weeks but the reality is even when we were winning it was masking a few problems we were having.

“But we are in a good position to move into the back half of the year and our second half against the Raiders was the best 40 minutes we have probably played this year, so hopefully it can be the start of a change in momentum.”

Predicted Finish… Provided they go on a nice positive run in the next few weeks, the Titans will finish between third and sixth.

Under-20s… Not quite the year the Titans’ under-20s were hoping for thus far, as the side is languishing in 13th place on the ladder – although a thrashing of the Raiders in their last start brings a little optimism.

After opening the season with two wins the Titans failed to win again until Round 10. They lost two games by two points and had one draw, but even if they had jagged those games they’d be mid-table at best.