Titans v Knights: Five key points
The major talking points as the Knights come from behind to win for the third straight week and the Titans welcome back three key players to the fold.
Knights the new comeback kings
For a team that failed to make the finals in 2014 the Knights have found a way to get themselves out of some difficult situations in the opening three rounds, their confidence growing with each come-from-behind victory. Having trailed the Warriors 14-6 at half-time in Round 1 and the Cowboys 14-4 in Round 2, the Knights were down 18-14 when five-eighth Jarrod Mullen left the field injured in the 73rd minute but still conjured a way to win 20-18.
"Our character and our desire is our most important thing for us at the moment," said captain Kurt Gidley. "Even the last five minutes there we were composed. We still wanted to win the game and that character and that desire is something that we need to keep. We need to work on some areas of our game for sure and completions weren't great overall but the desire to win is there and has been there for three weeks. It's nice to be three-from-three and going into a home game next week."
Sezer the man to partner Cherry-Evans in 2016
The Titans must go all-out to ensure that five-eighth Aidan Sezer partners Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves next season after a superb display in a losing side on Sunday. His composure, kicking game and direction would be the perfect foil for an instinctive player such as Cherry-Evans who would be able to take control in the key moments of the game. Sezer's cut-out pass for William Zillman created the first try for Anthony Don and then he scored twice himself in the second half to give his side a four-point lead heading into the final 15 minutes. Such a performance will have piqued the interest of other NRL clubs eyeing off the off-contract 23-year-old but in order to start 2016 on the right note the Titans need to lock him away on a new contract ASAP.
Fully-fit Snowden a force again
It's been four years since Kade Snowden represented both New South Wales and Australia on the back of stellar form at the Sharks but teammate Robbie Rochow says Snowden is the fittest he has ever been in his time at the Knights. For the third straight week Snowden ran for more than 140 metres and made more than 30 tackles (192m and 37 tackles against the Titans) and is a key figure in the most feared forward pack in the NRL at present. Rochow joined the Knights at the same time as Snowden in 2012 and said his persistent battles with injuries have held Snowden back from playing his best football while at Newcastle.
"A lot of people don't understand what you play with sometimes and I don't think he's been 100 per cent every season here at the Knights," Rochow told NRL.com. "He trained a full pre-season with us and he's fitter than I've ever seen him and he's playing well and playing tough and that's what we need."
Reinstated Titans make positive contributions
The 'will they, won't they' saga surrounding the availability of five Titans players facing drugs charges was temporarily put to bed last week and coach Neil Henry is hopeful that more settled preparations will soon lead to wins on the field. Greg Bird, Dave Taylor and Beau Falloon each made positive impacts on the Titans' performance on Sunday while Kalifa Faifai Loa and Jamie Dowling made their returns in the Intrust Super Cup. Bird, Taylor and Falloon were only given the all-clear to return to the team last Tuesday afternoon and five-eighth Sezer hopes the media circus that has followed the team for the past month has now packed up and left town.
"It's been a bit of a circus lately but I guess the best thing for them is that they are back playing footy," said Sezer. "They're all quality players and their input into the team is massive so we've got a few of our boys back and hopefully we can get a win next week."
Falloon and Moseley the right mix
The suspension of Falloon thrust Kierran Moseley into the starting hooker position earlier than coach Neil Henry had anticipated but it was clear after the loss to the Knights that it is a dummy-half rotation capable of making a big difference. Falloon was dangerous early and helped to create the space for Anthony Don's first try but it was Moseley's injection that helped the Titans to turn momentum their way. He probed, ran and got his forwards on the front foot, making 50 metres from dummy-half scoots and troubling the big Knights forwards in the middle of the ruck.
"Kierran off the bench worked well," Henry said. "Beauy had been out there starting the game and he's a good defender in that role and Kierran against some tired forwards plays forward really well and has improved his defence. He's only a young kid and he's improving all the time but I am excited by what I'm seeing from him. He's been able to step up and hold his own at this level which is great."