This should be a season defining game with both teams facing crunch time if they have any chance of playing finals – with two points separating them at 10th and 11th on the ladder.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Tigers were handed an embarrassing loss against the Raiders last round and for them to get their tilt back on track for playoffs they must turn it around against a squad full of potential game winners and the boot of one of the future great halfbacks in young Ash Taylor.
After being exiled from the club one of the Tigers favourite and loved sons Robbie Farah will make his return which will surely add to the emotion. This is after a mid-season move from South Sydney and what better place for this to take place but the clubs spiritual home at Leichardt Oval.
He will not be the only new addition to the Tigers pack with former Bulldog Moses Mbye also transferring to the club mid-season and on debut for this game.
The Gold Coast Titans will be looking to build on their strong last round win 32-10 over the Bulldogs, with post Origin returns of both Jarrod Wallace and Jai Arrow.
Coach Brennan seems to have been gifted a great halves pairing after the promotion of AJ Brimson from the Intrust Super Cup – who is becoming a great deputy to the talented Ash Taylor. This partnership is only a few games old but will only continue to strengthen and become more impressive – a great sight for the Titans faithful including The Bearded One. Coach also seems to have his 17 man squad going forward and combinations amongst these men seem to be growing and improving by the week.
Wests Tigers: Robbie Farah and Moses Mbye start at hooker and fullback respectively. Mahe Fonua ruled out with a broken arm with Kevin Naiqama shifting to centre and Corey Thompson moving from fullback to wing. Josh Reynolds returns from injury slotting back into five-eighth replacing Tyson Gamble. Elijah Taylor starts at lock, Josh Aloiai starting in the back row, Robbie Rochow drops to the reserves and Matt Eisenhuth and Sauaso Sue are on the bench.
Gold Coast Titans: Jarrod Wallace returns from suspension at prop pushing Jack Stockwell to the bench.
Moses Mbye will add an exciting new dimension to the Tigers’ attack in his debut and in leaving the destroyed messy system at Canterbury it will allow him to return to form and play more loosely as we remember him to be able to play.
In regards to the Titans I must eat my words and admit the when Gordon was signed I thought he was past it in comparison to his former starring playing style. I was so wrong thinking this and his kicking and role in the squad this season so far is something to be highlighted and respected.
For the Tigers to win: With Benji sidelined for another 1-2 weeks and Josh Reynolds no certainty to return from his hamstring injury, it means that Brooks must stand up and hope that the experience of Farah can help ease his playing duties.
For the Titans to win: The forward pack must dominate and punch holes in the Tigers defence to lead to scores and take the win.
Wests Tigers: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Corey Thompson, 6 Josh Reynolds, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer (c), 9 Robbie Farah, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Chris Lawrence, 12 Josh Aloisi, 13 Elijah Taylor Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Suaso Sue, 16 Michael Chee Kam, 17 Matt Eisenhuth
Gold Coast Titans: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Dale Copley, 4 Brenko Lee, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 AJ Brimson, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 Jarrod Wallace, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Ryan James (c), 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Keegan Hipgrave, 13 Jai Arrow Interchange: 14 Mitch Rein, 15 Will Matthews, 16 Moeaki Fotuaika, 17 Jack Stockwell
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday 1st July
Venue: Leichardt Oval
THE BEARDED ONE’S FINAL THOUGHT
In a game built on emotion and the return of Farah the Tigers as a group will want this win and work hard to walk away with it. The Titans will not let this be an easy feat for the West Tigers however and I tip them to walk away with a tight win that will come down to strong leadership from Taylor, James and Gordon.
Titans by 8pts