Ryan James leads the Titans onto the field.

Stats awful: Truth behind Titans' horror starts

The Titans' Telstra Premiership campaign is in danger of unravelling two months into the season unless they can address the horror starts that have brought them undone in three of their first four games of 2017.

As they did last year, the Titans have allowed their opposition to open up a double-digit lead in all four games this season, their only win coming when they fought back from a 12-0 deficit to defeat the Eels 26-14 in Round 3.

With games coming up against the Raiders (home), Broncos (away) and Sharks (away), a loss to the Warriors on Sunday could prove catastrophic to their finals aspirations and starting well will be paramount in ensuring a struggling Warriors team doesn't suddenly click into gear.

The Titans are the only team in the NRL this season yet to score a point in the opening 20 minutes of games and just as alarmingly the 38 points they have conceded is the most by any team over the same period.

The combined tally of 22 errors and penalties in the opening quarter is the fourth-most for all teams but it is in the metres gained statistic where Gold Coast are being completely blown off the park.

Despite having 52 per cent of possession in the opening 20 minutes of their games thus far, the Titans have recorded only 867 run metres, the worst in the NRL by more than 300 metres and less than half than the league-leading 1,841 metres that the Dragons have accumulated over the same period.

It is no surprise that the undefeated Roosters have the best points differential for the opening quarter with +18 while the Titans' opponents this weekend, the Warriors, have scored 18 points but conceded 26.

 


There is a growing sense of anxiousness within the Titans camp regarding the need to start well which may in fact be making the problem worse, back-rower Joe Greenwood admitting that it is as much a mental problem as one of skill.

"We take to the training field unbelievable with the talk and the effort from the boys is 100 per cent but you start the game and there might be a bit of nerves at the start and that's what's getting the best of us," Greenwood said.

"We just need to calm down but that will come.

"It's going to be a tough task over there at the Warriors but it's the same with any team. If you give them a 10, 12-point lead to start then you're on the back foot straight away and you've got even more pressure on you. We just need to focus on that big start straight away and kick on."

Like Greenwood, utility Karl Lawton has been coming onto the field with his team well behind on the scoreboard with the Titans giving up leads of 28, 10, 12 and 10 points in their opening month of football.

In three of those games they have fought back to actually take the lead and Lawton has no doubt that if they can take control of the fixture early that they can score points on any team in the competition.

"We've been talking about it and it's something that we do need to change," Lawton said.

"It's just the errors, a couple of little dropped balls. It's just what happens in the game and you can't really control it too much. If a ball gets knocked out it's out of your hands.

"As soon as we do get the ball we kill it. The halves take control and everyone knows their job and we seem to do the right thing with the ball."

With a lack of possession early additional pressure is being placed on the Titans' defence late in each half and they have continued to leak points in those periods.

Almost half of the 19 tries they have conceded this season have come in the final 10 minutes of each half as they try to fight their way back into the contest.

The Warriors have made 13 errors but conceded only five penalties in the first quarters of their matches this year and Titans coach Neil Henry knows just how vital it is to win the opening exchanges on Sunday.

"We need to get over there and put a bit of doubt in their mind," said Henry of a Warriors team who have lost their past three on the trot.

"They're coming off the back of a couple of losses as well and it's a fairly crucial match for both teams really. Both one from four and it will be tough over there and we certainly don't want to give them possession.

"You need to control your possession, it doesn't matter who you're playing.

"We practise for that, we've talked about it, we haven't been able to execute it so far this season for whatever reason, either an early penalty or an early error.

"We didn't have it for eight sets there at one stage [against the Cowboys] but we still need to be good enough to weather that and not concede two late tries in the first half when we hit the front.

"It certainly taxes our starting 13 if we haven't got the ball early."