2010 SEASON REVIEW: Gold Coast Titans
HOME RECORD: 8-4 (=5TH)
AWAY RECORD: 7-5 (=3RD)
Won 28-16 v Warriors in Week One, lost 32-6 v Sydney Roosters in Week Three to finish fourth.
BEST WINNING STREAK: 5 (Rounds 20-24)
LONGEST LOSING STREAK: 3 (Rounds 10-13, bye Round 11, & Rounds 16-19, bye Round 17)
PLAYERS USED: 30
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Yet to be announced
TRIES SCORED (After 26 rounds): 88
TRIES CONCEDED (after 26 rounds): 85
Gold Coast put their finals demons to rest, after going out in ‘straight sets’ last year, but it was a heart-breaking loss just one week out from the grand final that ended their premiership dream this season. They came agonisingly close to a shot at the ultimate prize, and showed a steely ability to win close games or come back and snatch victory throughout the year.
The Titans probably would have expected nothing short of a grand final berth in 2010. Having not left the top eight since Round 26, 2008, alongside the Dragons they’ve been one of the most consistent performers in the competition, improving each season. This year has been their best yet, making it to the preliminary final and scoring more points than any other Gold Coast team in history (average 21.3). Based on that trend, 2011 could easily finally deliver that grand final they so desire.
Where They Excelled… Their commitment to, and tenacity in, winning games. Like fellow Queensland side the Broncos once were, Gold Coast became the team you just couldn’t write off. Teams that did faced the likelihood of a last-minute loss. They played two golden-point matches and won both, and of their 13 matches decided by single figures, 10 finished with them victorious.
But it wasn’t just their known attacking strike power of the likes of Scott Prince, Mat Rogers, Preston Campbell and Greg Bird that got them there; their defence also stood out when things are broken down.
In the second half of the season the Titans improved their points conceded by 3.5 a game, conceded 1.5 fewer line-breaks and offloads, and were missing two less tackles – which went a long way to securing them a top-four finish and more comfortable run through the finals.
Where They Struggled… It was probably just the little things that let them down throughout the year.
While they were in the lower half of the competition for things like tackle-breaks (12th) and offloads (12th), handling errors probably hurt them the most. Maintaining possession has proven to be crucial in the modern game, and the Titans finished with an average of 9.5 errors a game, which placed them 12th in the NRL.
Missing In Action… There were a few notable players who spent time on the sidelines. Captain Scott Prince had a spell early in the year when he broke his thumb, and retiring centre Mat Rogers was out for six weeks – some feared his career could have been over prematurely – when he ruptured his medial ligament in Round 6. Also, a knee injury put Ashley Harrison out for a few weeks, while Preston Campbell and Greg Bird both struggled with hamstring injuries later in the season.
Young star Joseph Tomane was the only long-term loss in 2010; he wasn’t seen after Round 13 when a shoulder injury relegated him to the sidelines indefinitely.
Turning Point: They knew they were a shot at winning the premiership when they ground out an 11-10 win in golden point against the Dragons in Round 20.
Mat Rogers – who was moved in to five-eighth for the game with Greg Bird on the sidelines – proved to be the difference, slotting a one-pointer in the 90th minute for the last-gasp victory. The win was the first in the Titans’ longest winning streak of the season (five) and moved them back into the top eight, where they remained for the rest of the year.
Best Games… The Eels would probably rather forget it, but a masterful second stanza from Scott Prince in Round 22 brought his team back from a 12-0 half-time deficit to absolutely trounce the visitors. A try to Mat Rogers six minutes into the second half started the scoring and the Titans went on to put on 38 points to nil in 32 minutes.
Worst Games… Unfortunately for the Titans, their worst game came in the preliminary final. It was their heaviest loss for the season (32-6) and it knocked them out of the competition. They were in with a chance at half-time, behind just 12-6 on the scoreboard, but they missed nearly double the number of tackles the Roosters did in the second 40 and were forced to make 70 more tackles too, as the Roosters put on 20 more points to book their place in the grand final.
Hold Your Head High… Scott Prince was outstanding throughout the season, leading his side with his own strong performances and making representative selectors take notice, being named in the train-on squad for the Kangaroos Four Nations team. He finished second in the NRL for try assists and third for line-break assists and had pinpoint accuracy with the boot.
Veterans Mat Rogers and Preston Campbell stood tall as well, showing age is no barrier with consistent performances to get their side over the line.
But the Titans’ forwards put in their share of the work without gaining the same amount of accolades as some of their higher-profile backs. Nathan Friend finished the season with the most tackles (1108) and touches of the ball (3001) of any player in the NRL. And Anthony Laffranchi, who also earned a call-up for the train-on squad, recorded an average of more than 10 runs, 100 metres and 30 tackles for the third season in a row – the only player to have done so. Plus Brad Meyers led interchange players for minutes (837) and tackles (478).
Coach John Cartwright says… “At the moment we’re all just very disappointed, falling out of the competition when we did. We went into the semi-final confident that we should win and go on and win the grand final, so it’s just a feeling of disappointment.”
Conclusion… When your sights are set high for what you want to achieve in the season, it can be hard – at this point – to look at a preliminary final loss and say the year was an out-and-out success. But the Titans managed to improve once more on their efforts from the year previously and will have the motivation to take it that final step in 2011.
They were one of the more consistent teams in 2010 and once the disappointment of the finals loss fades, they will have plenty to be proud of.