Garth Brennan’s Gold Coast Titans will be looking to take another major scalp in the 2018 National Rugby League Premiership when they travel to Penrith this Sunday.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
In a dour affair at ANZ Stadium last Sunday, Penrith Panthers beat their western Sydney rivals Parramatta Eels 12-6. The win giving the club their best start to a season since John Lang’s side defended their premiership in 2004.
GOLD COAST TITANS
A trip to Gladstone on Sunday proved fruitful for the Titans. Despite going behind early, they led 20-8 at the break before Manly got within two points at the midpoint of the second half. Tries to Anthony Don and Jai Arrow in a five minute period ended any fightback with the Titans winning 32-20.
Waqa Blake is a forced change for the Panthers after picking up a high-grade syndesmosis injury in his side’s win. Isaah Yeo will shift from the forward pack to the centres as he did once Blake left the field last week. Corey Harawira-Naera will come into the starting line-up with Kaide Ellis to the bench.
GOLD COAST TITANS
Ryan James is not available due to suspension for dangerous contact on Lachlan Croker in Gladstone on Sunday. Max King will be his replacement in the front row with Will Matthews to start in the second row. Jack Stockwell gets the nod ahead of Keegan Hipgrave on the bench.
How the fortunes of a team change! Following a thrashing by St George-Illawarra Dragons at Toowoomba three weeks back, the Gold Coast Titans have beaten big brothers Brisbane Broncos and last years finalists Manly Sea Eagles in back to back weeks. Similarly, Penrith’s last defeat came in week 3 when they went down 20-18 to the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium. James Maloney has orchestrated recent victories over North Queensland and Parramatta.
Look forward to an enthralling battle between halves counterparts Maloney and Ash Taylor. Both players know Origin selection is around the corner. It’s no secret that Kevin Walters is looking to replace Cooper Cronk at halfback, and Taylor’s name has been thrown around to fill Ben Hunt’s utility spot as the Dragon moves into the starting side. Despite nearing 32 years of age, Maloney has stepped up in the last fortnight and reminded Brad Fittler he’s worth another chance for the Blues.
Another player looking to put his name forward for Queensland selection is Jai Arrow. Arrow has the fourth best running metres in the competition to date. He will come up against some hard hitting Panthers in the likes of James Fisher-Harris and Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
With both teams offer attacking prowess, the game is more than likely to be won of defence and how well each side can hold out defending their line. This is where Penrith might have the slight advantage.
When these two sides last met last July, Waqa Blake’s brace was enough to get the Panthers home in an emotionally charged game by 24-16. This game put a dent in the Titans finals hopes.
This is the first time former Panthers Intrust Super Premiership coach Garth Brennan returns to Penrith Stadium since taking over from Neil Henry at the Titans during the off-season.
Gold Coast Titans have won three of seven at Penrith Stadium, with their last victory on May 22, 2016 by 28-24.
Panthers: 1 Dylan Edwards, 2 Josh Mansour, 3 Isaah Yeo, 4 Dean Whare, 5 Christian Crichton, 6 Tyrone Peachey, 7 James Maloney, 8 Trent Merrin, 9 Peter Wallace (c), 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Corey Harawira-Naera, 13 James Fisher-Harris. Interchange: 14 Wayde Egan, 15 Kaide Ellis, 16 Moses Leota, 17 James Tamou. Reserves: 18 Jarome Luai, 19 Nick Tui-Toso, 20 Sione Katoa, 21 Jack Hetherington
Titans: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Dale Copley, 4 Konrad Hurrell, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 Kane Elgey, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 Jarrod Wallace, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Max King, 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Will Matthews, 13 Jai Arrow. Interchange: 14 Mitch Rein, 15 Morgan Boyle, 16 Bryce Cartwright, 17 Jack Stockwell. Reserves: 18 Leilani Latu, 19 Keegan Hipgrave, 20 Ryan Simpkins, 21 Tyronne Roberts-Davis
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday, April 15 2018
Venue: Panthers Stadium
WHO WILL WIN?