With the constant Jarryd Hayne talk on the Gold Coast surely being a distraction this week, the Knights have a chance to catch the Titans with their mind off the game, however they also face the threat of meeting a side with a point to prove.
Last Time Out
The Titans spent a good chunk of their first 40 minutes of 2017 huddled behind the goal post as the Roosters ran in 28 unanswered points in the first half. Poor errors, missed tackles and penalties allowed the Roosters to dominate possession, and after 30 minutes of piling on the pressure they were able to score a quick 18 points in the final 10 minutes of the half to give them an unassailable lead. The Titans showed some of the spirit that they were famous for in 2016 to score 3 tries in the half, however they were unable to reduce the huge deficit they faced at half time.
The Knights weren’t given much hope of taking their first win since April 2016 against a star-studded Warriors side, however they were able to lead the game at one stage before narrowly going down 26-22. The back-to-back wooden-spooners showed that they will be much tougher to handle in 2017, as a Nathan Ross try gave them a 22-20 lead with just 8 minutes remaining. Ryan Hoffman crashed through the Newcastle defence in the 73rd minute to give the Warriors the victory, however the Knights will take plenty of positives from the game.
Halfback is one of the few positions in which the Knights have the experience advantage in this clash, with former Origin star Trent Hodkinson coming up against young star Ashley Taylor. Both halves are renowned for their kicking game, and it will be up to these two men to use their boot to control the game. Taylor’s kicks were pivotal last week in getting the Titans back into the action, as he kicked a 40/20, forced repeat sets and later laid on a try for Jarryd Hayne with a well-placed bomb. Hodkinson can use his kicking game to pile the pressure on Hayne and try get into his head early, as well as to put pressure on rookie Tyrone Roberts-Davis, who will debut on the wing.
Hayne and the Titans have been hammered by the media all week, and the only way to silence the critics is for them to show that they can utilise the star fullback well without disrupting the team. All the extra attention on the Titans this week could either be a blessing or a nightmare for the Knights, however the Gold Coast should be strong enough to record their first win of the year.
Knights: 1. Brendan Elliott 2. Ken Sio 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Nathan Ross 6. Brock Lamb 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Danny Levi 10. Josh Starling 11. Sione Mata’utia 12. Jamie Buhrer 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Luke Yates 15. Jack Stockwell 16. Sam Stone 17. Jacob Saifiti 18. Tyler Randell 19. Sione Mata’utia 20. Josh King 21. Anthony Tupou
Titans: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Anthony Don 3. Dan Sarginson 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. William Zillman 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Tyrone Roberts 10. Ryan James 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Chris McQueen 13. Leivaha Pulu 14. Karl Lawton 15. Nathaniel Peteru 16. Agnatius Paasi 17. Joe Greenwood 18. Paterika Vaivai 19. Max King 20. Eddy Pettybourne 21. Tyronne Davis