If thereís anything that the Titanís round 1 game against the Tigers proved, itís that itís too early to bank on them earning this yearís wooden spoon.
Now, the first thing Iím betting any non-Titans to be thinking is Ďyeah right.í And letís face it, they did lose their first game 18-19 in the final minute, due to a late field goal by Pat Richards.
But lets have a look at all the background drama thatís been surrounding the clubís 2015 NRL season kick off.
At the end of last season, founding Titanís coach John Cartwright, alongside club founder Michael Searle, stepped down. This followed fours years of underachievement and an incredible loss of 15 out of 26 games during 2014.
The infamous drug scandal then hit the club at the start of this year. Five of the teamís valuable players, Greg Bird, Dave Taylor, Beau Falloon, Jamie Dowling and Kalifa Faifai Loa, are currently faced with charges alleging involvement in a drug trafficking syndicate following a Queensland Crime investigation. A post game appearance in front of the Southports Magistrate Court on March 9th†saw the players plead not guilty to cocaine possession and supply and, while their cases have yet to reach a conclusion, they have been granted bail until May 8th.
As far as distractions come, having 5 players facing criminal charges while facing public scrutiny has got to be a pretty devastating.
But thatís not all. Following the announcement of the charges, the club lost a crucial number of sponsors and stakeholders, both major and minor. As a result, the club has been taken over by the NRL in order to simply keep them alive.
Given all those battles, the Titans should have lost by at least 30. Which is coincidentally the same number both Brisbane and Manly lost by during round 1 WITHOUT any remotely comparable disturbances.
Now lets look at the Titans v Tigers game itself.
The Titans were the first to score. They then stayed in the lead right up until half time. During that first 40 minutes, the Titans scored 2 tries, 1 field goal and 1 penalty goal, while the Tigers managed only 1 try and conversion. And their try shouldnít have even been allowed, containing a missed forward pass in preceding play.
Not only that, but when Tigerís five-eight Mitchell Moses made a coathanger tackle on Titan William Zillman, he was allowed to stay on the field. After being put on report, he has since escaped suspension. HmmmÖ.
Despite allowing 2 more tries and conversions during the second half, all of which were scored on the Titanís right side, the number of tries against the Gold Coast still no where near rivalled the point differences accumulated in the other games of round 1. Taking that in account, as well as the number of times the Tigerís forwards were held up, the Titanís defensive line gave a strong pre-emptive performance for the coming season.
Devastatingly, the loss only came in the last 50 seconds of the game, Pat Richards scored a field goal after Myles lost the ball. A result of pure bad luck. Not a lack of skill.
So a loss of 1 point placed the Titanís 9th on the ladder.
But letís note that:
- Brisbane lost to Souths by 30 points
- Manly lost to Parramatta by 30 points
- The Warriors lost to the Knights by 10 points
- North Queensland lost to the Roosters by 24 points
- The Bulldogs lost to Penrith by 6 points
- The Dragons lost to Melbourne by 8 points
All these teams are considered, stronger, better, more fit for play than the Titans. All these teams are older than the Titans. All these teams finished above the Titans on the ladder last year.
But the Titans, the team own by the NRL, with the drug scandal, 5 players facing charges and a new coach, had the smallest point difference in the round. The Titanís arenít the first team to be owned by the NRL, the Knights and Rabbitohs have also needed saving, heck, the Rabbitohs even went on to win the premiership last year. Proof that financial difficulties arenít the end. Who knows? This new coach may be better, this scandal and the sceptical comments may be the Titanís motivation.
Itís only round 1, itís too early to say exactly what will happen this season. There will be injury and Origin season and player suspensions that are yet to occur.
But one thingís for sure, itís far too early to write the Titanís out of this yearís season.