Titans v Knights: Five key points

Hayne's centre shift a success, Knights' half-time woes continue, Konrad the crowd pleaser and how the Titans playmakers finally found their groove.

Hayne shift to left centre a success

It was a shift designed to not only help Jarryd Hayne work his way back into match fitness but also nullify one of Newcastle's best attacking weapons and after keeping Dane Gagai quiet for much of the game Hayne's shift from fullback to left centre was an unqualified success.

An hour before kick-off the move of Hayne from fullback to centre, Tyrone Roberts from five-eighth to fullback and Kane Elgey's promotion from the bench to the halves was confirmed and it didn't take long for Hayne to assert himself.

His first run was full of purpose, he single-handedly turned the tide with a try after the Knights led 8-0 early and towards the end of the first stanza almost snared his side's second.

A strong line off Ash Taylor early in the second half saw him cross again and he helped pile the pressure on the Knights with a tackle on Newcastle winger Ken Sio that earned his side a repeat set midway through the second half.

On the other side Gagai – who has been Newcastle's best again this season – was kept to just 55 metres from eight carries as the Titans scored 32 unanswered points in the second half.

Knights' half-time woes continue

Four times this year the Knights have led at half-time and four times they have been unable to go on with the job in the second term.

For the second week in succession they held a two-point lead over their Queensland opponents but once the Titans scored three minutes into the second half the floodgates soon opened and the young Knights who had seemed so confident wilted under the weight of possession.

Coach Nathan Brown said after the game that his young squad don't have the capacity to mentally and physically fight through adversity just yet and with a tough road coming up a third consecutive wooden spoon is looking more and more likely.

 
Titans playmakers find their groove

For 40 minutes it appeared as though the four key playmakers in the Titans team weren't too sure who exactly should be running the show but a more direct approach in the second term paid off handsomely.

In the first half Tyrone Roberts and Ash Taylor both had three kicks apiece in general play and Kane Elgey two and it seemed unclear who was expected to put the polish on the end of their sets.

The touches of the footy were also equally shared in the first term but it was Taylor who played a more dominant role in the second-half rout.

The playmaking puzzle was always going to be coach Neil Henry's hardest problem to solve and whether he comes up with the right combination post-Representative Round will determine how far the Titans can climb up the ladder.


Reserves step up in Wallace's absence

After suffering concussion on the stroke of half-time Titans prop Jarrod Wallace played no part in the game after the break which gave Morgan Boyle and Paterika Vaivai the chance to show their worth for extended periods.

Playing just his second NRL game Boyle played 43 minutes and racked up 117 metres from 12 carries while Vaivai made excellent use of his 27 minutes against his former club, amassing 158 metres from 14 carries with 65 metres coming post contact.

Wallace has been outstanding for the Titans all season and is well and truly in the frame for a Queensland Origin jersey so the performances of both Boyle and Vaivai will give Henry belief that they have the depth to cover should he be selected.

Konrad the crowd pleaser

He is arguably in the best form of his career and while there is the tendency for an error still from time to time, the energy Konrad Hurrell provides for both his teammates and the crowd is impossible to measure.

Hayne will take all the headlines for his two-try performance but Hurrell was arguably just as influential, scoring one try from a clever chip kick from Ash Taylor and then selling the most obvious dummy in the world before ploughing over from dummy half.

The Titans only had possession in Newcastle's end courtesy of a Hurrell tackle that had Knights half Jaelen Feeney counting which ribs were intact and his charges from deep often provided the impetus to Gold Coast attacking raids.

He made three errors when no other teammate made more than one but he ensured he made up for it in the most crowd-pleasing fashion.