Titans v Roosters: Five key points
The Titans charged home in the second half to shock the Roosters and end a five-match losing streak.
Titans hold their nerve
In a game of two teams well down the ladder it became clear early on that the Titans and Roosters were engaged in a game to see which side would blink first. The Titans hammered away at a resolute Roosters defence and after 30 minutes all either team had to show for their efforts was a solitary penalty goal.
When the Roosters scored a brilliant try through Latrell Mitchell after 32 minutes a Titans team that had suffered five straight losses could have then found plenty of reasons to lose but still stinging from their 38-0 defeat to the Storm in Round 9 refused to yield.
Prior to that loss the Titans had been engaged in four close contests and come up short on each occasion, making Monday night's win worth much more than simply two competition points.
"Going so close a few times and being held up over the line it was a bit frustrating, not getting points," Titans coach Neil Henry said of their early dominance.
"The Roosters defence was solid, they were desperate and sometimes it goes the other way. They get easy points and they got that long-range try and we either drop the heads or grind it out a bit.
"To the boys' credit they stuck to it."
Mixed night for two Mitchells
They were the two Roosters who looked most likely to break the game open but both Mitchell Pearce and Latrell Mitchell endured mixed nights for the visitors.
As the Titans dominated early possession Pearce was targeted heavily in defence, forced to make a total of 32 tackles in his second game for the season and coming up with three misses.
In the set after the Roosters' first try it was Pearce who sparked their attack with an incisive run and coming up with the tackle that kept Titans fullback William Zillman in goal but he released the pressure valve when he made a handling error in the subsequent set.
At just 18 years of age Latrell Mitchell continues to amaze with his attacking skills, giving four Titans defenders almost no chance of stopping him as he went on an arcing run of some 60 metres to score the opening try of the game virtually untouched.
He and winger Joe Burgess however both made a game-high three errors apiece and that is where Roosters coach Trent Robinson says the greatest improvement lies in a super young talent.
"I thought he had a tough night tonight, it wasn't his best and he's probably one of those guys I'm talking about," said Robinson, referencing the need for a more complete output from all 17 players.
"We're going to give him time but if you pull on a jersey you've got to perform and he delivered in spades on that play [to score a try] and then there's all the tiny parts around the game that you've got to deliver on as well.
"That wasn't his best night."
Paasi try evidence of game's small margins
The momentum had swung significantly the way of the Roosters before an error and then a penalty gave the Titans one last crack in the first half.
The home side had hammered away with some 30 tackles inside the Roosters' 20-metre zone without success before Paasi received a pass from Ashley Taylor, dummied to his outside and then put his head down.
He squeezed through two defenders, reached out and with his fingers barely still in contact with the football managed to just reach the try-line.
Referee Gavin Badger thought he'd either come up short or lost possession and referred it to the Bunker as a 'no try' but the replays showed that for a split second Paasi put the ball down on the chalk, and the Titans carried important momentum into the second half.
"It was very important," Henry said of Paasi's 38th-minute try. "He's got a couple like that where he's been able to keep the ball off the ground and get over next to the posts.
"It was crucial. We needed it, that's for sure, to stay in touch.
"It's hard to know. I think the boys had a real resolve tonight anyway regardless. I was pretty confident the game wasn't going to be a repeat of what happened here before [against Melbourne]."
Encouraging signs for Titans halves
In their seventh game together Titans recruits Tyrone Roberts and Ashley Taylor looked to finally have taken control of their football team on Monday night.
When a team has lost five on the trot the responsibility of finding a way to win invariably falls back on the playmakers and Roberts and Taylor provided the direction and leadership to keep their teammates composed when the game was in the balance.
Taylor provided the pass for Paasi's try and the kick into the in-goal for William Zillman to score while Roberts fired the cut-out pass to David Mead to extend their lead midway through the second half while also kicking five goals from as many attempts.
They shared the kicking duties and threatened the line with their running games and co-captain Zillman was in no doubt that they played a key role in what was in the end a comfortable victory.
"I felt our attack was a lot better this week and we controlled the ball better as well," Zillman said.
"There was a lot more patience and that came largely from our two halves, directing the play and demanding the ball.
"I know I take that on myself and a few of the other older guys, keeping the boys calm and relaxed. It is hard to do with young halves who love to run the ball and things like that but I thought they really stepped up tonight and controlled the team really well."
Roosters finals hopes hanging by a thread
Minor premiers for the past three seasons, the Roosters are in danger of falling out of the finals conversation altogether before the Telstra Premiership reaches the halfway mark.
Since 2008 teams have needed at least 28 competition points to finish in the top eight which would leave the Roosters needing to win 10 of their remaining 14 games to ensure they don't have September off for the first time since 2012.
In the next month they are away to the Bulldogs and Warriors and host the Wests Tigers and Melbourne Storm at home and in the final four weeks of the season play the Cowboys, Broncos and Sharks.
Although Parramatta are anticipated to lose the 12 competition points they have already accrued as it stands at the moment only the Knights sit below the Roosters on the ladder through 10 rounds of the competition.
The entire Telstra Premiership has been waiting for the Roosters to come good; if they wait much longer there may be nothing left to play for.