Titans eager to kill off resilient Eels
Finishing the season with seven consecutive wins may still not be enough for the Eels to scrape into the Telstra Premiership Finals Series but Titans forward Chris McQueen is not expecting to meet a team that has thrown in the towel on Saturday.
Having lurched from one crisis to another after starting the season as one of the form teams of the premiership, Parramatta's tenuous grip on finals aspirations may have been dealt their mortal blow with a 22-18 loss to the Panthers last Sunday having led 18-6 at half-time.
Given they were without the likes of Kieran Foran, Corey Norman, Junior Paulo, Nathan Peats, Semi Radradra and Brad Takairangi the Eels had no right to ever lead that game but once again displayed a spirit many teams above them on the ladder would love to bottle for themselves.
By disposing of the Dragons in emphatic fashion to the tune of 32-12 at UOW Jubilee Oval last Friday the Titans showed an ability to take control of a game and maintain it and McQueen says the seventh-placed Titans will need a similar performance to kill off the Eels.
"Obviously they've had a pretty rocky last couple of months so for us it's about going out there and playing focused and knowing that we're in control of our destiny now," said McQueen.
"As long as we keep winning games of footy we'll maintain that spot [in the top eight] and we'll get there into the finals.
"It is an opportunity for us to play against a team that has probably had a few distractions and come away with a victory.
"They've done a great job blocking out all those distractions and playing great footy.
"Even if they mathematically can't make the finals I don't think that affects a team too much. When you run out onto the field you're there for a job, you're there to play footy.
"I don't think I've ever heard of or seen a team that said because they couldn't make the finals they weren't going to try on the weekend.
"We've still got to expect them to show up and play and we've got to play accordingly."
After the Dragons kicked out on the full with their first use of the footy last Friday the Titans took complete control, scoring two tries inside the first eight minutes with nine of the next 10 sets of the game.
McQueen paid credit to the halves pairing of Tyrone Roberts and Ashley Taylor for the way they took control of the game, comparing Taylor to Adam Reynolds when he first came into the Rabbitohs' top grade team in 2012 and guided the team to a Preliminary Final.
"I remember when Adam first came into first grade he had all the confidence in the world," said McQueen, who played four seasons with Reynolds at South Sydney.
"He knew his job and he went out there and he did his job. He's not trying to do anything that's above him or beyond him, he knows his job and that's the only thing that matters.
"You wouldn't know that [Taylor] is a 21-year-old that's played only 17 or 18 first grade games. He's going out there and playing with all the experience in the world and it's been great for us.
"He's got a lot to learn and trying to get that experience and getting into the swing of regular first grade.
"He'll get better as he gets older but he's putting his hand up and getting the job done now and doing exactly what we're asking of him.
"Both Ash and Ty controlled that game outstanding, especially in that first half and that set us up for the victory."