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Finals equation: Why Titans aren't focused on 11-point winning margin

Titans coach Justin Holbrook admits it would be disappointing if the team falls short of a finals berth but doesn't want his players to focus on the scoreboard as they attempt to beat the Warriors by at least 11 points to edge Cronulla out of eighth spot.

With the Sharks losing 28-16 to minor premiers Melbourne on Friday night, the Gold Coast need to be beat the Warriors and overcome an 11-points inferior for-and-against to claim the remaining finals place.

Should the Titans lose they will finish 10th behind Canberra and Cronulla will qualify for their seventh consecutive finals series, while an 11-point win would propel Holbrook's team above the Sharks on percentages.

Cronulla have scored 520 points and conceded 556 points in 24 matches this season, while Gold Coast have scored 536 points and conceded 583 points in their 23 matches so far.

NRL stats guru and rugby league historian David Middleton said that if two teams have the same differential after their for-and-against is calculated, the one with the best defence usually has the best percentage.

However, because the Sharks and Titans both have a negative differential, the percentage equation – determined by dividing points scored by points conceded and multiplying by 100 – favours the team who has scored the most points.

Therefore, Gold Coast only need to win by 11 points on Sunday.

Titans v Warriors - Round 25

If they win by 12 points, the Titans (-47) will have a superior for-and-against than the Sharks (-36) and percentages won't be a factor.

Holbrook said he wanted the Titans to focus on defence and performing well for 80 minutes rather than the winning margin required to make the finals.    

"Obviously to chase 12 points is not the easiest thing to be worrying about during a game but we can't focus on that," Holbrook said.

"We have just got to go out and play well and if we win by 12 points we are in the finals.

"I think if we defend well, we will be okay. I think we have scored points quite comfortably throughout the year and whenever we play well we have got our defence right, so I think that is the focus tomorrow."

After Gold Coast finished ninth last season, Holbrook said it would be disappointing to miss the finals in his second year as coach of the club but he believed little separated those teams ranked from seventh-place and below on the ladder.

The Titans could have secured a finals spot by beating Newcastle last weekend but Patrick Herbert missed a field goal attempt and Mitchell Pearce kicked one to secure seventh spot for the Knights.

"I think we can have the same execution and intent as last week we will be alright," Holbrook said.

"Obviously we finished ninth last year, so I have said right from the start that we want to play finals footy this year and we have got a great opportunity to do that now.

Fifita into the action and into wrecking ball mode

"It will be disappointing if we don't but there are 16 clubs who set out at the start of the year to play finals footy and only eight can do it.

"I also said at the start of the year that I can't see the top five or six teams changing, I thought we would all be battling out for positions seven and eight. That has panned out so if we are good enough to sneak into eighth then that is what we want."

Holbrook confirmed that strike second-rower David Fifita would again start from the interchange, saying: "Eighty minutes is not what we need from him, we need impact".

Veteran winger Anthony Don, who is retiring at the end of the season and hasn't been named in the team to play the Warriors, will receive an official farewell at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday, with special t-shirts having been printed for the occasion.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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