Old scars fuel Titans in NRL finals

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Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook insists Sydney Roosters taught them a lesson they will recall on Saturday night when the Titans play their first NRL final in five seasons.

Back in June, the Titans stunned the competition when they went toe-to-toe with the Roosters, fighting back from a 30-4 deficit with 28 minutes to play only to be beaten by a field goal on the buzzer.

That night the Titans ran in five tries in the second half to level the scores 34-all before teenage halfback Sam Walker nailed the drop goal.

Since then the Titans have won just five NRL games including Sunday's 44-0 victory over the Warriors that booked them an elimination final against the Roosters in Townsville.

It was the biggest win in the club's history, giving Holbrook and his young side the confidence that they can right their mistakes from round 14.

"We only got beat by a point last time," he said on Sunday.

"We learn a lot. Each time we fall just short the players understand why and we're giving them solutions to get better.

"I feel like we're getting better and better."

By contrast, the Roosters have lost just four games since that night, finishing fifth despite an incredible injury toll that could have crippled lesser squads.

But asked if they're beatable, Holbrook said: "Of course they are".

"They've been phenomenal this year; Robbo (Trent Robinson) and Fitzy (Craig Fitzgibbon) and their coaching staff, to do what they've done with the club (is amazing).

"I know the top sides Melbourne and Penrith and Souths look a mile ahead of everybody but for the Roosters to miss out on fourth for differential with two-thirds of their side missing ... they don't need me to rap them, they've obviously done a great job and now I have to plan to beat them.

"They're gonna be great, but we're happy to play anyone.

"You don't have to be better than them all year, you've only got to be better than them for 80 minutes and our side's capable of that."

David Fifita was used off the bench again in Sunday's win over the Warriors, scoring a double to go with three tackle busts and two line-breaks.

The million-dollar man has now scored the most tries in a season for the club (17) and helped deliver the Titans to the finals for the first time since 2016.

The 21-year-old Queensland star was under pressure to drag the club into the semi-finals once he arrived from Brisbane on a marquee deal as part of a roster overhaul this year.

"He's not meant to play 80 minutes," Holbrook said, hinting that Fifita will be used from the bench again next weekend.

"If he's stronger and faster than everybody you can't expect him to be the fittest as well.

"He's got plenty of strengths to his game and that's the way we've got to use him and it's working."

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