In his weekly Todds Blog column, Payten described the match as extraordinary.
We got the right result against the Titans but we should learn a few things out of that match. The first thing we should learn is how to play in pretty hot conditions. We should also have learned that momentum is a very important thing to have particularly in the NYC. We should also gain a fair bit of belief if we didn't have it already.
We started strongly posting the first try and controlling the game for the first ten minutes. Again some poor discipline gave them field position they never earned. Before their first try we were able to hold them out for 3 back to back sets but we finally buckled on the fourth.
For the next 15 minutes, we had to bring the ball off our own line with the Titans getting to a kick or us piggy backing them downfield with penalties late in the tackle count. We were zapped. They had the ball for an extra six sets than us on half time.
I will admit a couple of their tries were soft and we had too many players taking the soft option in the last few minutes before half-time. At half-time, I pointed out where we were falling short. I was happy with the feel of the dressing room as the guys were attentive which is sometimes missing even when we are in front. We spoke about believing that we can still win the game. If the possession turned or evened up and we stayed patient we would be able to come back and give ourselves a shot at least.
The second half didn't start to plan as they were able to score their first set with the ball on the back of three offloads for a 28-12 lead to the Titans.
Forward Andrew Kazzi sparked the side with some smart running down our end and with a relieving penalty, he hit Nathan Brown on a lead and put him over under the posts. There was a sudden shift in body language from both sides. We gained another gear and the Titans started giving big ground in the middle of the park. That was part of our game plan to take them on through the middle knowing that we were far fitter and smarter if all things were level.
The Titans were able to score next in the corner with the spacings on our right edge leaving too much room. Nathan Brown was outstanding and really sent the game into one way traffic. He found his front for quick play the balls every hit up and twice making clean line breaks. He also got away some timely offloads.
We scored five converted tries in 17 minutes. Most from good, smart footy under pressure and a fortuitous regather from a smother for another. I was relieved after the match but still concerned that we leaked so many points. There is no doubt we have quite a bit to work on.
The best for us were the two mentioned earlier along with Kurtis Rowe, Nathan Milone and Manaia Cherrington. Kurtis looked dangerous all day and made some crucial tackles including an 80 run down of his opposing fullback. Nathan Milone was also dangerous with ball in hand. Manaia played big minutes at nine in the heat. He defended well and was also crafty around the ruck when the time was right. I though Leva Li had his best game for a while. He copped two bad calls early in the match when under bombs buts remained positive and come up with a terrific catch with the game on the line and carried the ball strong on each occasion he went in the middle.