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While many pundits are tipping the seventh- and eighth-finishing sides to make little impact in this year's finals series, the attack-minded Titans have shown they can threaten anyone on their day.

After a heartbreaking loss in a game they should have won against the Roosters earlier this year in one of the most entertaining games of the season, the Titans should be confident they can match it with the Tricolours.

While the Warriors in round 25 were a long way from their peak, Justin Holbrook's men should also take heart from the fact they were able to bring their best in a game they not only had to win, but had to win by a wide margin to push their way into the top eight.

Starting each half strongly is key for Titans

The previous meeting between the two teams back in round 14 was a wild ride; the Roosters burst out to an 18-0 lead and at one stage led 30-4 before the Titans ran in five straight tries in just 17 minutes to lead 34-30 before a late Matt Ikuvalu try and Sam Walker field goal got the Roosters the win.

The Titans conceded the first three tries of the game and the first two tries after half time. They simply cannot afford to do that again.

Roosters v Titans - Elimination Final

"As long as we can walk off the field with our heads held high I think the result will take care of itself," said winger Corey Thompson, while noting the importance of starting fast.

"If we can defend well at the start of the game and absorb the pressure early it will go a long way to helping us win," he added.

The Roosters on average outscore their opponents in every quarter of matches this year but by far their biggest advantage occurs in the second 20 minutes of each half, with a plus-nine try advantage in the second quarter of games and plus-10 in the final quarter.

The Titans outscore their opponents by a narrow plus-three margin in the first two quarters of games, and by plus-six on the home stretch, but get outscored by a whopping 11 tries in the 20 minutes after half-time.

If they can get this Achilles heel under control on Saturday they can aim to match it with the Roosters down the final stretch in a period where both teams tend to excel.

Halfback Jamal Fogarty was looking to take confidence from that round 14 contest.

"I think we can take a lot out of the last time we played them and how quickly we were able to put on points after we started poorly," Fogarty said.

Finals Factor: David Fifita

"In the end Sammy Walker sunk us with a field goal.

"They've had so many guys who have been in and out of their side through injuries or retirements but are a well-oiled machine who keeps ticking over.

"But I just think up there [in Townsville] on a dry track there is no home ground advantage and it will really suit how we play."

The Fifita effect

Back-rower David Fifita has again been named off the bench, from where it has for the most part been feast or famine for the Maroons powerhouse since being pushed into that role in round 19.

In the first three games – against admittedly weak opposition in the Dragons, Bulldogs and Cowboys – Fifita racked up five line breaks, two tries, a try assist and 472 metres at 157 per match. The Titans won all three games.

Against the Rabbitohs in round 22, with an obvious step up in opposition, Fifita was almost completely nullified with 77 metres and just one tackle bust (yet still with one line break) in 56 minutes.

David Fifita scoring tries only he can

Back in the starting side for the only time since round 18 against the Storm in round 23 he was again nullified with 61 metres and one tackle bust in 73 minutes. The Titans lost both games.

But over the past fortnight – a narrow 15-14 loss to the Knights in which they were for the most part the better side then the huge 44-0 win over the Warriors – Fifita compiled three tries, three line breaks and 11 busts; his combined 188 run metres over two games remained on the low side.

Having Fifita run at the Roosters' smaller edge players in Lachlan Lam and, when he comes on, Sam Walker, should be front of mind for the Titans.

It's important the Titans don't rely on this to win them the game because it's something the Roosters will certainly have a plan for, but if the Titans are able to get Fifita winding up at the Roosters' edges then even if he doesn't crash over it will likely open up opportunities in other parts of the defensive line.

Attacking edges: Titans' attack suited to Roosters' weakness

Fifita aside, much of the focus in this one will be on how each side attacks the other's edge defence, but particularly how the Titans' left-side attack goes against the Roosters' right-side defence.

While the Roosters have the second-best left-side defensive record in the competition, behind only Melbourne, their right-side defensive record is barely top-eight material.

Their centre-right channel has leaked 23 tries this year – the equal fifth-most of any team in that channel.

That means there are opportunities for the Titans with their own left edge attack up against the Roosters' weaker side. For tries scored in the centre-left channel – directly opposite the Roosters' weakest zone – they have the second-best strike rate in the NRL this year with 31 tries; only the Storm (34 tries) have more.

Fifita alone accounts for eight of those 26 tries while Corey Thompson, Phil Sami and Jarrod Wallace all have three in that zone.

 

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