Taylor emerging as Titans leader
He is just nine games into his NRL career but Ashley Taylor is already developing the trademarks of a leader according to Titans teammate Chris McQueen.
Taylor and Tyrone Roberts delivered their best game as an NRL halves combination in Monday night's 26-6 win over the Roosters at Cbus Super Stadium, showing equal measures of daring and patience to break the game open in the final 20 minutes.
Poor starts cruelled the Titans in four losses by eight points or less prior to their 38-0 hiding at the hands of the Storm but they were also guilty of failing to close out contests with the game in the balance.
But with more than two weeks to prepare for the Roosters clash Taylor and Roberts worked diligently on their combination and execution and the results came to fruition when it mattered most.
Taylor provided the pass for Agnatius Paasi to score just before half-time, Roberts the cut-out pass for David Mead to break the second-half stalemate and then Taylor finished things off with a juggled grubber into the in-goal for Will Zillman to seal a 20-point win.
If not for a collision between the pair after Taylor made a first-half line break the Titans halves had an almost faultless night and McQueen is confident their combination will now go from strength to strength.
"With that two weeks it gave us the opportunity to work on things and freshen up and get into the boys' ears and tell them exactly what we needed from them," McQueen said after scoring his first try for the Titans.
"They worked really hard over the two weeks and you could see Ash has only played 10 first grade games but he's a real leader out there.
"To see those two boys playing the way they played, that's what we need from them every week. They're only going to get better now."
Wearing specially designed boots and jersey for NRL Indigenous Round, Taylor said he was more nervous pre-game than for his NRL debut with the Broncos last season and that the team did well to produce such a polished performance after such a long layoff.
"It will give us a lot of confidence going into next week," Taylor told Titans TV.
"The boys really worked hard when we came off the break. It's very hard to play consistent footy when you come off a break but the boys put in the hard yards at training this week and it was great out there."
On the back of five straight losses McQueen is confident that with better execution against the Roosters the team will take a renewed sense of self belief to Penrith in that what they are working on at training will deliver positive results.
"It does give us a lot of confidence, just in the things that we've been doing," said the former Rabbitohs premiership-winner.
"We know our structure works, if we can hold onto the ball. Our defensive structure works, we showed that tonight, and when we've got the ball what we're doing works.
"We just haven't been doing it well enough and haven't been executing it well enough but that result shows that what we're doing works."