Gold Coast Titans host the Cronulla Sharks at CBUS Super Stadium in their first game back at Robina since they were temporally evicted for the Commonwealth Games.
Both sides are locked on six competition points so this promises to be a close encounter.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After putting together two impressive wins in a row against the Broncos and Sea Eagles, Garth Brennan’s Titans have been brought back down to earth with consecutive losses to the Panthers and Cowboys.
Despite playing some eye-catching football at times this season, the biggest challenge Gold Coast are facing is playing their best football on a consistent basis; at this point the gap between their best and their worst football is too big.
The Sharks have been ‘hot and cold’ all season and much like the Titans have struggled for consistency, after beating the Storm and Eels they then followed that up with poor performances against the Roosters and Dragons, before upsetting the high-flying Panthers last weekend.
The Sharks are still trying to workout what their best combinations are, which is the main reason why they’ve been so inconsistent.
Garth Brennan has made some big changes to his side this week with the biggest casualty being five-eighth Kane Elgey who has been replaced by Bryce Cartwright in the No.6 jersey.
The Titans left side defence was all over the shop last weekend and winger Tyrone Roberts-Davis will join Elgey in reserves with former Newcastle utility back Brendan Elliot coming into the side at left centre to help tighten up their defence.
After coming off their most impressive display of the season Shane Flanagan has named pretty much the same side, except for the return of co-captain Wade Graham who replaces injured veteran Luke Lewis.
With Graham returning to the left edge, expect impressive youngster Scott Sorenson to take Lewis’ spot on the right edge.
The Sharks will also welcome back Jayson Bukuya from injury he’ll take his place on the bench for Kurt Capewell who has been left out of the 17.
Gold Coast and Cronulla face off for the first time this season although they did play each other twice last season with the Titans winning on both occasions
Despite this, with both sides showing signs of brilliance mixed with moments of madness, this will surely be a close encounter.
Both teams have struggled with combinations throughout the opening rounds with both Flanagan and Brennan making plenty of changes to their lineups.
For Cronulla, they seem to have settled on Josh Dugan at fullback and Matty Moylan at five-eighth, whilst Brennan will roll the dice with the enigmatic Bryce Cartwright being named in the halves.
The key battle in this match will be between the biggest weaknesses of each side. For the Titans, it’s no secret their defence has been abysmal in 2018, having leaked nearly 200 points already and ranked 16th in defence.
Meanwhile, for the Sharks, the constant chopping and changing of their spine has made their attack clunky at times as they’ve struggled for direction on the field.
The Sharks showed some improvement last week in their win over Penrith, whilst the Titans have brought defensive guru Trevor Gillmeister back into the fold to help out.
“It’s always a tough game against the Titans, they always play for the full 80 minutes” – Val Holmes expecting another epic encounter with the Titans.
“People seem to forget that Bryce played his best football at five-eighth during the 2016 season at the Panthers”- Garth Brennan explaining his decision to name Cartwright in the six jumper.
Gold Coast and Cronulla have met 18 times for 8 wins each and 2 draws.
Titans: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Brendan Elliot, 4 Konrad Hurrell, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 Bryce Cartwright, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 Jarrod Wallace, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Ryan James (c), 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Will Matthews, 13 Jai Arrow, 14 Max King, 15 Jack Stockwell, 16 Keegan Hipgrave, 17 Morgan Boyle, 18 Brenko Lee, 19 Ryan Simpkins, 20 Alexander Brimson, 21 Kane Elgey
Sharks: 1 Josh Dugan, 2 Edrick Lee, 3 Jesse Ramien, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Valentine Holmes, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Scott Sorensen, 12 Wade Graham (c), 13 Joseph Paulo, 14 Jayson Bukuya, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Ava Seumanufagai, 17 Kurt Dillion, 18 Kurt Capewell, 19 Jack Williams, 20 Braden Uele, 21 Trent Hodkinson
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday April 28th
Venue: CBUS Stadium, Robina
WHO WILL WIN?
Cronulla showed signs they’re starting to find their groove last week in a very impressive win over Penrith whilst the Titans still seem like a work in progress with still plenty of things to work on in their game, for this reason I’m tipping the Sharks to win 1-12