Titans v Eels: Five key points
Ash Taylor's genius on display again, Eels refuse to blame Norman's absence, the Titans injury crisis worsens and Semi has a night he'd rather forget.
Ash Taylor genius on display again
If he'd gotten his team across the line last week against Newcastle it would have stood up as one of the great individual performances of the year and Ash Taylor again displayed why the Titans should lock him away for the next decade on Friday night.
On his 22nd birthday Taylor showed composure beyond his years to not only guide his side to the front against a Parramatta team that had started with two consecutive wins but keep them there.
His kicking game combined with a willing chasing team enabled the Titans to pressure the Eels into error deep inside their own half on a number of occasions and it was Taylor's attacking kicks that created his side's two second-half tries.
He is not off contract until the end of next season but the Titans should be putting a plan in place now to make sure he never even gets to go on the market.
Norman's absence not to blame
When they shot out to a 12-0 lead with Clint Gutherson pulling the strings, the absence of star halfback Corey Norman seemed to not be troubling the Eels in the slightest but as the Titans worked their way into the game the Parramatta playmakers were unable to arrest the slide.
Gutherson's transformation from skinny winger to genuine NRL half has been dramatic and he was superb in scoring his side's first try and sparking their second for veteran halfback Jeff Robson.
But as the match wore on their influence became less and less and other than a late flurry they were given few opportunities to mount a meaningful attack on the Titans' line.
On the surface having Norman at their disposal would appear to have made the difference for Parramatta but Eels coach Brad Arthur said not even he could have conjured a miracle with such little possession.
"Boys dropping the ball at the play-the-ball or getting their timing wrong on their run, that's got nothing to do with Corey," Arthur said. "They were just simple fundamental errors that we've got to get right. NRL players have got to get them right.
"They scored a couple of tries off kicks in the second half and there was not much more we could do there except not to give them the field position that they had."
Titans injury crisis goes from bad to worse
The bruises never seem to hurt as much after a win but the Titans' injury crisis might yet get worse before it gets better.
William Zillman has reinjured the calf that kept him out of the team for Round 2 and is unlikely to feature in the foreseeable future while English centre Dan Sarginson is not expected back for up to a month with his patella tendon complaint.
Tyrone Roberts was moving freely in the sheds after the game but is likely to be closely monitored with a hamstring concern and Jarrod Wallace had an icepack on his knee but is not considered in any doubt to face the Cowboys next week.
"For the club to have the injuries that have been documented and to not be able to use a player like Dale Copley, the guys that went out there said, 'Right, this is the 17 we've got, let's get the job done' and they did," said coach Neil Henry.
The curse is also reaching the club's Holden Cup team with winger Kody Parsons stretchered off in a lot of discomfort with a broken leg.
Gold Coast will have the services of new recruit Dale Copley next week but there are unlikely to be any further reinforcements for another month or so.
Titans bookends holding middle together… just
For the third week in a row the Titans struggled to hold their own in the middle third of the field during the opening exchanges but not due to any lack of effort from their two starting front-rowers Ryan James and Jarrod Wallace.
The former under-20s teammates have reunited this season and are spending plenty of time on the field trying to keep their side from being torn apart completely. Having struggled to earn a starting spot during his time at the Broncos Wallace has played at least 63 minutes in all three games to date and against the Eels made 35 tackles and ran for 92 metres and met the tough-as-teak Eels pack head-on.
After playing 80 minutes against the Knights was on the field for all but six minutes on Friday night as he racked up an impressive 46 tackles and 86 run metres.
They may not be getting many of the plaudits but Wallace and James are forming a formidable front row.
Semi's shocker one to forget
You wonder how it can happen.
That a player widely lauded as the game's best winger after scoring four tries in a game for the first time in his career could five days later come up with two such fundamental errors at such a crucial time in the game.
Radradra spilled two simple passes inside his own 10-metre line with his team under pressure in the space of eight minutes during which time the Titans turned a two-point deficit into a six-point lead.
Semi wasn't the only one at fault as the Eels failed to complete four sets in succession but it did show how quickly this game can build you up and then tear you down.
And it wasn't all bad for Semi; his run to provide the final pass for Jeff Robson's try in the 15th minute was a beautifully worked set piece but it was otherwise a night he'd rather forget.