Titans teeter as season slips away
It was meant to be the game that sparked a month of progression up the Telstra Premiership ladder but instead Saturday's loss to the Warriors has put the Titans' prospects of finals football in a perilous position entering the second half of the season.
An inept performance that was most disappointing for the lack of effort and intensity displayed for much of the game saw the Titans drop their fifth game at home for the season and a third on the trot, as they prepare to face a trip to South Sydney next Friday night without Origin stars Jarryd Hayne and Nathan Peats.
On top of the embarrassment of the 34-12 defeat in front of a number of the greatest players to have worn the Titans jersey over the past decade, Kane Elgey (sternum), Konrad Hurrell (ankle) and Karl Lawton (shoulder) all failed to finish the game and on a six-day turnaround will be in some doubt to face the Rabbitohs.
The Titans are facing the prospect of having to win eight of their last 11 regular-season games in order to even qualify for the finals and coach Neil Henry admits that they desperately need to find some energy to keep their season alive.
"The disappointing thing was that it was a very important game for us but we weren't willing to get into a bit of a grind," Henry said.
"It's by no means a good performance, it was a very flat performance when we were playing for a lot.
"We've got three Friday night games now – Souths, Wests Tigers and then come back here for the Dragons who are playing good footy.
"You've got to turn up every week in this competition to win a game of footy and you've got to find a way to compete at that level at a consistent basis to win and we haven't been.
"We had a little period there where we were really up for a few games and now we've dropped back into a bit of a lull at the moment.
"We just need to pick ourselves up and get out there and make no excuses for how we play and find that energy.
"We'll have to do that next week against Souths and we're going to have to go up a couple of notches to compete against them because I thought they were pretty good on [Friday night]."
The loss of Hayne should be offset by the return of Tyrone Roberts next week from a shoulder injury but unlike stages during the early part of the season he won't also be able to cover for Peats at hooker.
Of course, if Elgey is unable to recover in time the depth of playmakers available for selection will be close to non-existent, making the Titans even more vulnerable near the foot of the ladder.
The Warriors dominated every major statistical category on Saturday and although the Titans were first to score through Elgey after six minutes Henry admitted they were never actually in the contest.
"We didn't really give ourselves a chance," Henry said.
"Didn't defend errors or penalties, which is disappointing. If you make an error you've got to be able to defend that and they played a game where they kicked and chased and came up with some better last tackle options and mounted some pressure on us and we didn't handle that.
"I thought we had some effort out there at times but when you're not getting your choices right on where you finish or where you land your kicks or being able to hang in defend a penalty or error, you're going to be chasing points all night.
"We didn't finish our sets off or take our opportunities when we needed to. It's a bit of a flat performance given that we needed to win.
"We just need to rest up, find a bit of energy and get out there and compete. At the moment we're not able to do that.
"We need to be better across the board but we certainly need to find some energy and spark within the team that's for sure."