A game between two sides outside the top eight, the Titans host the Tigers on Sunday night at Cbus Super Stadium, in a match that could decide the season fate for the men from the Gold Coast. The Tigers’ go into another week looking undoubtedly the underdogs; in a season they wish could end sooner rather than later. Both sides will have strong squads entering the game.

LAST TIME OUT

The Titans were coming off three straight wins last weekend, going up against a Penrith who have also hit hot form of late. The Titans seemed the better side in the first half, with most attacking opportunities as well as a far better completion rate. 63% meant that Penrith wasted whatever chances they had early on, and the Titans were able to strike first through some nice ball play, ending with Jarryd Hayne scoring. The momentum swung completely to the Panthers just before half time, and defensive pressure allowed Waqa Blake to swoop on a loose ball and give the Panthers their first try. After half time the Panthers’ continued to look the better side, and in the 48th minute a solid backline movement sent Blake over for a second try. With momentum being a huge key in rugby league, the Titans managed to claw their way back and a try in the corner to Anthony Don reduced the deficit to four points. From there the game was anyone’s and both side had their share of opportunities. Matt Moylan intercepted a pass to extend Penrith’s lead back to 10 points, and another try to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak secured a win for the Mountain men 24-16. The Titans’ loss means their game against the Tigers is that much more important, now needing to win every remaining game to ensure a finals berth.

The Tigers played the Eels at ANZ Stadium, a game that had a win written all over it for Parramatta. Bevan French crossed over first with passing out the back, and managing to evade three defenders in the right corner. The Tigers’, looking spirited, hit back with a terrific run from James Tedesco, running 40+ metres and evading multiple defenders. The Eels continued to exercise their opportunities, but fell short every time. Lolohea put the Tigers ahead by two points with a penalty goal, which was later cancelled out by Radradra scoring in the left corner from a Corey Norman cut .out pass. The scores would remain the same until half time. The Eels struggled to keep the ball in hand, with a low completion rate compared to the Tigers for the majority of the match. Two penalties after half time to the Tigers gave them a slim 12-10 advantage, until the Eels once again were able to steal back the lead, and held onto such a lead for just nine minutes. A Luke Brooks bomb fell to the hands of Malaki Watene-Zelezniak, and what seemed to be a gifted try squared up the scores at 16-16. A moment of brilliance from Corey Norman sealed an important win for Parramatta, 17-16 avoiding what could have been an embarrassing loss. The Tigers are similar to the Knights, riding out the season and gaining as many positives as possible. With the high turnover of their roster between 2017 and 2018, what happens really does not matter in the great scheme of things.

KEY BATTLE

There’s a nice little battle out back, one that takes over any sort of form of either side. Jarryd Hayne and James Tedesco have both been, as assumed, huge components to their respective sides strive for success in 2017.

Hayne started out playing in a side that ultimately did not seem to want him. Chemistry issues were building and his lack of form saw the idea of Hayne leaving the Titans in the near future a possible reality. Since the start and conclusion of Origin, Hayne has managed to perform at a terrific level, and the Titan’s wins have come with that rise in form. Hayne’s huge frame makes him an absolute nightmare to both defend and attack against. His experiences in the NFL gave him a little extra muscle, and his ball handling has been a skill that he has mastered since his early years.

Although he is moving on to the Roosters next year, Tiger fans still want James Tedesco to play at a huge level to allow a solid finish to the season. The 2016 Dally M Fullback of the year has had an up and down 2017, with moments of brilliance like his try against Parramatta. Although Tedesco’s running metres for 2017 are a career-high average, his line breaks and tries have taken a significant dip and because of that the Tigers’ have struggled to find consistent attacking output. Whatever he can produce in the last few rounds affectively does not mean a lot in the great scheme of things, but hot form can make things a little less difficult for the Tigers.

Both men will undoubtedly need to be in great form to set their respective backline’s up on the attack, while also being able to handle the defensive pressure on the other side of the ball.

PREDICTION

The Tigers were a bit of a surprise against the Eels, who have been a treat to watch as of late, and gave fans a bit to cherish regardless of their horrendous 2017. The Titans still statistically have a chance to make the top eight, and a reliable spine along with a solid forward pack gives the Titans an edge. No Konrad Hurrell will reduce the impact that their backline could possess, but a strong squad across the rest of the park sees no room for era for the Titans. It may lack the quality compared to some of the bigger clashes over the weekend, but it is one with just as much weighting. Titans by 8.

SQUADS

Titans: 1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. John Olive 5. William Zillman 6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Joe Greenwood 13. Max King 14. Karl Lawton 15. Morgan Boyle 16. Leivaha Pulu 17. Nathaniel Peteru 18. Kane Elgey 19. Phillip Sami 20. Pat Politoni 21. Agnatius Paasi

Tigers: 1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Matt McIlwrick 10. Tim Grant 11. Chris Lawrence 12. Elijah Taylor 13. Matthew Eisenhuth 14. Alex Twal 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Michael Chee-Kam 17. Ava Seumanufagai 18. Josh Aloiai 19. Jj Felise 20. Joel Edwards 21. Jack Littlejohn