Titans seek to silence hostile Eels crowd
The Titans will seek to break a worrying point-scoring drought early in games in order to keep a Pirtek Stadium jam-packed with passionate Parramatta fans subdued when the two teams meet on Saturday afternoon.
Despite wins over Manly and South Sydney at home the Eels sit outside the top eight with just two wins heading into Round 6, while the Titans have just the sole victory over the Sharks in Round 4 in their win column for the opening five weeks of the season.
Dating back to August 2013 the Eels have lost just two from 13 games at Pirtek Stadium and with Parramatta boasting one of the most passionate supporter bases in the NRL Titans coach Neil Henry knows some early strikes are key in keeping them quiet.
Gold Coast have scored only two tries all season inside the first 20 minutes of games and have not scored more than one try in the first half since Round 1, squandering numerous opportunities early against the Broncos last week.
Having named an unchanged squad to that which took the field against Brisbane, Henry said it was critical to show composure early if they hope to keep the noise levels down within Pirtek Stadium.
"The times I've played there and it's been a good healthy crowd it is a noisy stadium and it's a great atmosphere," Henry said on Tuesday. "I think the players appreciate the noisy crowd, it's just all in the mix for the atmosphere in terms of who they are playing in front of. It just adds to the occasion.
"You can normally silence the crowd if you get some early points but they're a different team this year Parramatta. They go for the full 80 and they'll be trying to make amends for their performance at the back-end of the game on Monday [against the Tigers].
"Their following's been great this season and they'll be looking forward to defending that record at home. As long as we're prepared to get into the battle with them I'm sure we can match them.
"We're expecting a hostile crowd and a physical game."
The Titans' horror record of posting early points is further denting the confidence of a team in desperate need of a change of fortune. Gold Coast have been victorious in only four of their past 21 games stretching back to Round 9 last season and have had some refereeing decisions go against them early in games in 2015 that have further dented their confidence.
When capitalising on momentum is such a critical aspect of the modern game Henry conceded that frustration at being unable to break down the Brisbane defence led to fundamental errors when in possession.
"There's an element of frustration that we didn't score points," Henry admitted. "That first 10 minutes we had four or five sets – and in retrospect it's easy – but maybe that second penalty we got we should have taken the two points and possession and just reset ourselves by going back and having a yardage set from the kick-off and getting back into it again.
"It's very hard to attack consistently from 10 metres out. You don't have the depth in your play to try and get momentum so full credit to the Broncos defence, they scrambled well and kept us out with some desperate defence and we helped out by turning the ball over too often."