Titans v Roosters: Five key points

Pearce and Keary shine as new halves are unveiled, Proctor's injury a concern for the Titans, Roosters wingers set the platform up the middle and Titans vow to find cohesion in the space of seven days.

Pearce and Keary make blinding start

Mitchell Pearce said himself at half-time that sometimes it can take time to build a combination with a new halves partner but in their first game together he and Luke Keary attacked the Titans relentlessly and gave a not-so-subtle suggestion that they will work very well together.

Playing in a more traditional first and second-receiver formation, Pearce and Keary shifted to both sides of the ruck to create doubt in the minds of the Titans defenders and create time and space for their outside men.

Keary scored two first-half tries on either side of the field while Pearce had a hand in all five tries in the opening stanza as the team that finished 2016 one from the bottom started their season on a positive note.

In commentary on Fox League, Corey Parker mentioned the number of times the two halves passed to each other and each time they did they seemed to catch the Titans short out wide.

"We've worked hard on that. It's a bit of an addition to the way we're trying to do things," Roosters coach Trent Robinson said of the halves linking together.

"They've been playing well at training and we've got a pretty good second squad that run against us and put a lot of pressure on us so they've been running those plays well.

"But you're not sure how it's going to work and it worked well when we had the opportunities."

Roosters monster backline sets the tone

They were bigger and stronger and the Roosters outside backs weren't afraid to show it. Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Daniel Tupou not only brought the ball back with vigour on kick returns but looked to spark a Roosters attack with the first play of the set.

Tupou had six offloads and often linked with Kenny-Dowall while Blake Ferguson and Latrell Mitchell waited in the wings to also have a crack at a retreating Titans defence.

With such a strong platform laid the Roosters forwards queued up to have their crack through the middle as they completely dominated territory for the opening 40 minutes.

"Us middles rely a lot on those back five to get our sets started and 'Skids' (Kenny-Dowall) and 'Toops' (Tupou) are probably two of the best in the comp," said Roosters captain Jake Friend.

"We're straight on the front foot and we rolled through the middle and hit some inside shoulders in that first half but in the second half we didn't quite get it on."

On the other side, neither Anthony Don (157 metres) or William Zillman (27m) were able to have a similar influence for the Titans, only Konrad Hurrell and his ferocious charges bent the Roosters defence as Gold Coast came out of their end.

Dan Sarginson showed some fancy footwork with his runs but coach Neil Henry may have to look to some size on his flanks in the weeks to come.

"I thought Anthony Don tried hard and so did Dan Sarginson but we weren't getting much momentum from our back three at times and their kicking game was a little bit better too," Henry said.

"It's an area we need to improve. We certainly need to start our sets off and we probably needed to move the ball a bit more and move their forwards around a bit more."

 

Proctor injury a concern for Titans

They were decimated by injury before the season even began so Titans officials are hopeful that the shoulder injury that kept Kevin Proctor from the field for the entire second half is not a serious one.

Lacking power in his right shoulder after being caught in a tackle in the opening five minutes of the game, Proctor was not used at all in the second half in his debut game for the club and will have a scan on Monday to determine the extent of the injury.

"Shoulder problem, don't know how serious, but we didn't want him to come back after half-time," Henry said.

"He'll get a scan but hopefully it's just a minor thing. He didn't have a lot of power there so we thought it was too risky.

"He said it happened in the first five minutes, I didn't notice it. He got caught in a tackle but I haven't seen the vision of it. He's a bit sore."

Mixed start for new Titans halves pairing

While their opposition made a blistering start to their new partnership it was more of a mixed bag for Titans youngsters Kane Elgey and Ashley Taylor.

Playing his first NRL game since Round 26, 2015, Elgey struggled to assert himself on the game while Taylor's kicking game was a feature of the Titans' comeback in the second half.

With their team on the back foot in the opening 40 minutes the Titans pair were unable to find a way to wrest momentum back for their team in their first full game together as a combination.

Taylor's bomb that led to Elgey's try in the second half was perfectly placed, he came up with a 40/20 that should have led to a try for Chris McQueen in the ensuing set and it was his kick also that Jarryd Hayne leapt high to take and score with 17 minutes left to play.

They will get better but Henry admitted they were disappointed with their first-up effort, particularly Elgey.

"He's disappointed, both our halves are and I'd expect they would be on a result like that," Henry said.

"We lacked a bit of direction at times but I was just glad to see him get through. His form's been good in the pre-season but they've only had a couple of games together now so again it's a work in progress for them."

 

 

Titans look to quick turnaround

Neil Henry conceded that his side played exactly like a team that hadn't played together before but is confident they can find cohesion in the seven days between their loss to the Roosters and their Round 2 clash with the Knights in Newcastle.

Four players (Proctor, Sarginson, Jarrod Wallace and Joe Greenwood) made their debuts for the club on Saturday night with Wallace the only one to have played in any of the pre-season trial games.

Add in the fact that Hayne and Hurrell also missed any pre-season football and you have a team understandably down on cohesion.

While allowing for that in some respects, Henry hoped the 28 points they conceded in the first half will motivate them to be much better against Newcastle.

"I hope it's a kick in the backside for us because it should be but we're realists in that the team hasn't had an opportunity to trial together," Henry said.

"You can do all the training you like but really we haven't been out there against another team. That's a valid reason for some of our play but we also need to be better with what we're doing defensively regardless and some decision making around what we're doing with the ball."