The curtain raiser of Saturday nights cracking double header will see the Titans desperately looking to continue their winning run, however in their way stands the competition powerhouse, the Melbourne Storm. Unfortunately, the game has been overshadowed by the cocaine scandal involving Melbourne’s Jesse Bromwich and the Titans’ Kevin Proctor, with both players to miss the clash. The Storm are also without hulking prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Christian Welch.
Last Time Out
The Titans will be hopeful that the rep round hasn’t halted their momentum, as their victory against the Sharks was followed by a second-half demolishing of the Knights. The Titans have looked like a top 8 side since regaining most of their squad against the Sharks, with Jarryd Hayne and Konrad Hurrell making their presence felt by dominating the Knights with 2 tries each. The Titans got immediate results from Henry’s decision to move Hayne to left centre in order to keep Tyrone Roberts at fullback, leaving the Titans with no reason to change a winning formula for the clash against the Storm. The Titans were once again guilty of a slow start against the Knights, actually trailing the game 8-6 at the halftime break. Something obviously clicked for the Titans at halftime though, as they piled on 30 points in the second-half to crush the Knights.
The Storm once again cemented their place as the best side in the NRL, making the top 4 Dragons look like easy work with a 34-22 drubbing. The scoreline doesn’t truly reflect Melbourne’s dominance in the game, as they lead 34-4 in just the 55th minute, before losing the tempo for the remainder of the game and allowing the Dragons to lay on 4 tries in the final 20 minutes. Billy Slater and the two flying wingers were absolutely lethal for the Storm, with Vunivalu, Addo-Carr and Slater each scoring a double, as no other Melbourne players crossed the line.
Key Match Up
Many consider him to be the next longterm Queensland halfback, and Ash Taylor will need to upstage the man whose no.7 jersey he hopes to succeed if the Titans are to come up with a victory against the Storm. The 22-year old has been on fire for the Titans all season, leading the NRL with 15 try assists- 5 more than the next most from Daly Cherry-Evans. There are plenty of similarities between Cronk and Taylor- the short kicking game, their organisational skills- however the Melbourne playmaker is renowned as one of the games most composed players, and Cronk will undoubtedly step up in the big moments to win the game for his side. Taylor has also been praised for his composure at such a young stage in his career, and in front of a packed out Suncorp Stadium the Gold Coast will be relying on their talented young halfback to steer the side to victory.
The Titans haven’t been given much hope in this game as $3.15 favourites, however the Gold Coast side are a lot stronger side than many people initially assume due to their ladder position. With a fully fit side and plenty of confidence, the Titans are a good chance of sneaking an upset against the Storm, who are missing 3 of their most influential forwards. However, the Storm are the most clinical side in the competition on the back of the big 3, and at Suncorp where they have won 11 of their past 12 games, they may just be too good for the Titans. Storm by 6
Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. William Chambers 4. Cheyse Blair 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Tim Glasby 9. Cameron Smith 10. Jordan McLean 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Joe Stimson 16. Tohu Harris 17. Ryley Jacks 18. Tui Kamikamica 19. Dean Britt 20. Slade Griffin 21. Young Tonumaipea
Titans: 1. Tyrone Roberts 2. Anthony Don 3. Jarryd Hayne 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Dan Sarginson 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James 11. Chris McQueen 12. Joe Greenwood 13. Ryan Simpkins 14. Dale Copley 15. Morgan Boyle 16. Paterika Vaivai 17. Leivaha Pulu 18. Nathaniel Peteru 19. Pat Politoni 20. Daniel Vidot 21. Eddy Pettybourne