Controlled chaos key for Titans
'Controlled chaos' will be the Titans' mantra as they look for a way to disrupt Melbourne's almost impenetrable defence on home turf and dictate the speed at which the game is played on Sunday.
With captain Cameron Smith calling the shots and halfback Cooper Cronk's execution the most clinical in the competition, the Storm have generated an impressive winning record at AAMI Park when teams score less than 20 points against them.
The Storm have won 13 of 17 games when they have kept a visiting team to less than 20 points at home in the past two seasons, often frustrating the opposition into errors with their own miserly mistake rate and an ability to control the speed of the ruck.
The Dragons on Monday night had 113 of their 143 play-the-balls take three seconds or longer whereas in their 17-4 loss to the Broncos the Eels had just 53 of 129 take at least three seconds.
Perhaps due in part to the torrential rain that lashed Cbus Super Stadium last Sunday the Titans had only 20 of 141 play-the-balls take less than three seconds against the Knights and veteran prop David Shillington knows that is an area where they must match Melbourne to be a chance of causing an upset.
"It's a pretty daunting sort of experience going down to play Melbourne. You know they're strong wherever they play but particularly down there," said Shillington, who has five wins from 15 previous clashes with the Storm.
"We all know that Melbourne can be so clinical in attack and defence.
"They're renowned for being the best wrestlers in the comp so there's no doubt we've got to run hard and try and break tackles and fight as hard as we can to get a quick play-the-ball.
"They want to slow the game down to their speed by controlling the ruck so we've got to play upbeat, fast football and try and cut that out of their game."
The Titans' 11 offloads against Newcastle last week were the fourth-most of any team from Round 1 with Greg Bird the most prominent with four on his own.
Shillington himself is one of the more proficient offloaders of the footy in the NRL and although he was responsible for just one against Newcastle, sees it as an area the Titans should exploit.
"Some second-phase footy can pull apart clinical teams like that," said Shillington.
"We've got some really good offloaders in our team, particularly in the back row with 'Birdy' and Zeb Taia, so hopefully those guys can do some safe, calculated offloads this week.
"When you have got people like Tyrone [Roberts] and 'Meady' (David Mead) who can run onto the ball through half a gap, hopefully we can be dangerous."
If he starts at fullback as named David Mead will have a critical role to play for the Titans in lessening the impact of the kicking game of Cronk and Smith by getting to as many kicks as possible on the full.
Whilst he highlights the need to complete at a high rate in order to keep pace with the Storm, Mead also said the halves combination of Tyrone Roberts and Ashley Taylor will need to chance their hand when they have the opportunity.
"We've just got to go down there and make sure we execute because Melbourne are a side that if you give them cheap ball they'll make the most of it. For us it's just about holding onto the ball," Mead said.
"Melbourne are probably one of the best teams at grinding out games so you want to get a bit creative as well and I think we've got that with Tyrone and Ash Taylor there.
"If those halves can provide a bit of creativity against a side like Melbourne I think we'll go all right."