Titans v Eels: Five key points
The Titans use defence to spark their attack, Greg Bird gets comfortable being captain again, power-packed Eels a work in progress and effort can't make up for a lack of execution.
Titans turn defence into attack
Their attack had been derided for its lack of potency in recent weeks but after 166 minutes without a four-pointer captain Greg Bird claimed it was the Titans' defence that allowed them to rediscover their try-scoring touch. Having been kept try-less in their past two games Bird laid on the first try of the game with a clever kick for Kane Elgey in the seventh minute but said it was their second-half defence that instilled the confidence needed to score three more tries and claim a 24-14 win.
"The attack started to flow when we started to get a bit of confidence in our defence," Bird said. "We haven't had that and we've been leaking way too many points and for the percentage of that second half we held them scoreless and I don't think they looked like making too many breaks on us. We defended really well and I think that then crossed over into our attack and we got a bit of confidence."
Eels' A for effort but fail execution
With the late withdrawals of both Will Hopoate and Brad Takairangi and the somewhat makeshift halves pairing of Joseph Paulo and Luke Kelly a disjointed attack undermined a committed team effort according to Eels coach Brad Arthur.
With tries to Junior Paulo and Nathan Peats Parramatta had the lead and the better of the running going into half-time but forced just one Titans drop-out over the entire 80 minutes.
"I thought the boys tried very hard tonight so we weren't beaten on effort, it was just our execution in attack that let us down," Arthur said. "I want to make sure that we keep playing with effort and we keep turning up for each other. We need to improve our execution but in defence we only missed five tackles in the first half and we worked really hard for each other and I want to continue to see that but we need to get better and we need to find ways to win."
Bird keen on captaincy call-up
The shoulder injury that kept captain Nate Myles out of the Titans team on Monday night handed Greg Bird a chance to lead the team again and the Test and Origin back-rower revelled in the occasion. Bird laid on the first try for Kane Elgey, provided the final pass for James Roberts' try as well as making a line break and running for 109 metres from 11 carries. He muscled up on the edges against the powerful Parramatta forwards in the type of performance he regularly delivered as co-captain last season. Bird had the captaincy stripped from him due to an incident following his wedding in December and said he would love to lead the club again in 2016.
"I love captaining the team, I love the honour, but I'm just happy to be playing football and enjoying winning," Bird said. "I enjoy it, a bit of extra responsibility on the football field. I just go out there to try and do my job, I don't think anything really changes. I probably do a little more talking but just try to lead by example I guess.
"It's been a long time since we've had a win as a club and hopefully these last couple of games we can start playing some football we can be proud of, start playing some football the Gold Coast fans can come out and watch and be proud of and finish the season on a bit of a high."
If size was everything the Eels would be unbeatable
You'd forgive Kane Elgey for waking up in a cold sweat for the rest of the week after the terrorising he was subjected to by the enormous Eels forwards on Monday night.
First Junior Paulo and then Pauli Pauli made it their 80-minute mission to run at Elgey at every opportunity they had and the poor Titans half could do little but put his body in front of theirs and simply hope for the best.
Watching Paulo, Pauli, Tepai Moeroa and Daniel Alvaro monster opposition forward packs may be encouraging for Eels fans but coach Brad Arthur and captain Tim Mannah have issued the challenge of delivering on a weekly basis.
"They're progressing, it's just mainly learning the grind from week to week and tackle to tackle and effort to effort," Arthur said.
"Junior's been playing some really good football, Tepai's been playing some good football, Pauli, they're all playing some good football at times, we've just got to do it more often."
Added Mannah: "They're both great prospects. Junior's been going really well and I thought tonight was probably the best I've seen him play for a long time. They're both young and we've got a lot of other young guys coming through who are getting a taste and they're going to be better for it in the future."
Mead proof of power of a big heart
There wasn't a physical characteristic where David Mead came out on top, but the Titans winger continued his excellent season by keeping Eels powerhouse Semi Radradra relatively quiet on Monday night. Radradra's 147 metres may have been the most by any player but they were accrued mainly from carries out of his own end and he failed to add to his season tally of 17 tries, only the fourth time this year he has been kept off the score sheet. In a difficult season for the Titans Mead has been one of the few shining lights, putting his much smaller frame on the line with brave kick returns, tough runs from dummy-half and soaring leaps to diffuse bombs in defence. If the Titans got the same effort from the other 16 players every week they'd be almost impossible to beat.