Titans hurting at another lost season
Five weeks ago the Titans sat in the NRL top eight but after a third consecutive heavy defeat their players are coming to terms with another season where they won't feature in finals football.
Although the mathematicians may still technically be able to save them the Titans know the aspirations for success which they started the season with have been crushed under the weight of the 34-0 hiding they received from Brisbane on Friday night.
It was in fact a much-improved performance from the Titans given their previous two defeats to Manly and Newcastle but every defensive error they made was punished by a Broncos team riding high on confidence and belief.
Any hopes the Titans had of mounting a second-half comeback were dashed when halfback Kane Elgey was forced from the field after receiving a heavy knock three minutes into the second half and he will be assessed during the week as to whether he will be able to face the Eels on Monday week.
Nate Myles will have scans on a shoulder injury that kept him from returning in the second half and Ryan James will be monitored after suffering a shoulder injury and a low grade medial ligament injury to his knee.
After another whole-hearted performance in which he ran for 109 metres and made 34 tackles Titans prop Luke Douglas cut a disconsolate figure after the game as the reality of another missed Telstra Premiership finals series hit home.
"It hurts. Every game I go in confident, I think we've got a team there that can have some success but it's just a bit of a letdown that with all that talent there's no reward," Douglas told NRL.com.
"I've played one finals series in my life (2008 with Cronulla) and it's all you aspire to and it's another chance blown I suppose.
"For me, getting on now, those opportunities to play in a good side don't come along too often and with a few losses there it's another year gone.
"I'm giving my all each week and the pubic just sees, 'Oh yeah, the Titans got touched up again' and just that hurt of your perception. And it's warranted too, we've let the fans down, but we've let ourselves down. To compete so hard and to come off rooted and it's all for nothing..."
Where the Broncos looked impregnable the Titans looked vulnerable as Brisbane's halves in Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford exposed defensive weaknesses around the ruck time and again.
Darius Boyd made a simple line break from a Milford inside pass early in the first half and shortly afterwards Ben Hunt sold a dummy to Boyd that Agnatius Paasi swallowed hook, line and sinker, Hunt racing clear to score Brisbane's third try in the space of 12 minutes.
Kodi Nikorima's first try in first grade 10 minutes from full-time was a straightforward dart from dummy-half through a gaping hole close to the Titans' line but at the other end there seemed no way through the Brisbane defence.
"We need to take a leaf out of their book," said Douglas. "They're playing with a lot of confidence and everything they do, in attack and particularly in defence, they just work as one. No matter what we threw at them they just seemed to be able to eat it up.
"They've got trust in each other and they look comfortable and whatever we threw at them they handled it with ease.
"We gave ourselves a few opportunities, we held onto the ball and had some repeat sets but we just couldn't crack them.
"[Earlier in the season] we had the trust and we were working as one and confidence plays a big part in that. Just when it gets a little bit tough and under a bit of fatigue, that's when you need to be on the ball and that's when you really need to be working as one, talking and trusting.
"All the opportunities they took were from us not communicating and not talking."