Expect another hard-fought Queensland derby in Round 17, with the eighth-placed Brisbane Broncos travelling down the M1 to Cbus Super Stadium to take on the Gold Coast Titans for the second time this season.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Gold Coast Titans
The Gold Coast Titans have muscled their way to 14 competition points after consecutive wins over the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Wests Tigers. Sitting just six points shy of the top eight, the Titans will want to stay in finals contention.
Following the four-point win over the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane will want to improve their consistency across eighty minutes. Wayne Bennett’s men will be on high alert after their poor first half against the Raiders (trailing 16-0 at halftime). The loss of four key players to State of Origin duty will provide many young guns with a chance to stake their first-grade claims and solidify the Broncos’ position in the top eight.
Gold Coast Titans
The Titans have been forced to re-shuffle their line-up for this weekend’s clash to accommodate the loss of Jarrod Wallace and Jai Arrow to representative duties. Coach Garth Brennan has elevated Jack Stockwell and Will Matthews into the starting team and recalled Konrad Hurrell and Morgan Boyle to the interchange bench. Five-eighth Kane Elgey remains on standby for AJ Brimson, with Brimson named to represent the Queensland under-20’s team in next Wednesday’s State of Origin curtain-raiser.
Bennett has made a raft of changes to his 17 for Origin. Andrew McCullough, Josh McGuire and Corey Oates were named for the Queensland Maroons, while centre James Roberts will play for New South Wales. Winger Jonus Pearson and centre Tom Opacic have been named to fill the void left by Oates and Roberts. Twenty-one year old Jake Turpin – who joined the Broncos in late 2017 following a stint with the Melbourne Storm – is set to debut at hooker in place of McCullough. The return of Joe Ofahengaue (virus) and wrecking bull Tevita Pangai Jnr (rib) forces last week’s debutant David Fifita to the reserves list.
September football is a very real possibility for the Titans and Broncos. A win for the Titans would elevate them to as high as ninth place. A complete performance from the Broncos would see the gap between themselves and the competition leaders (St. George-Illawarra Dragons) reduce to four points.
The Titans’ performances in the past two weeks indicates that they are hitting their straps at the right time of year, finding the perfect balance between structured and off-the cuff football. The consistently tough, grinding performances from the Titans’ forward pack have created many opportunities for the talented backline to create havoc. For the Titans to win, it’s important that forwards Stockwell and Matthews have strong performances to back up the whopping 369 metres that Maroons pair Arrow and Wallace made between them last week.
While the Broncos’ great escape against Canberra was riveting for fans, they will want to get out of the blocks early and tidy up their combinations in defence and attack. Given the Titans’ ability to make line-breaks and slice through teams’ defensive lines, it’s imperative that the Broncos have a high tackle efficiency to restrict the Titans’ opportunity for offloads. Halves Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima must utilise their speed to control the ruck and continually build pressure with their respective kicking games.
Brisbane have a tremendous record over the Titans, winning 18 from 24.
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 Jack Stockwell, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Ryan James (c), 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Will Matthews, 13 Keegan Hipgrave. Interchange: 14 Mitch Rein, 15 Morgan Boyle, 16 Konrad Hurrell, 17 Moeaki Fotuaika. Reserves: 18 Leilani Latu, 19 Kane Elgey, 20 Ryan Simpkins, 21 Brendan Elliott.
Brisbane Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Jonus Pearson, 3 Tom Opacic, 4 Jordan Kahu, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Jake Turpin, 10 Sam Thaiday, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Jaydn Su’A, 13 Joe Ofahengaue. Interchange: 14 Patrick Mago, 15 Tevita Pangai Jnr, 16 Korbin Sims, 17 Kotoni Staggs. Reserves: 18 Patrick Carrigan, 19 David Fifita, 20 Sam Tagataese, 21 Sam Scarlett.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday, July 8 2018
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
Kick-off: 4:10pm (AEST)
WHO WILL WIN?
This game is shaping up to be a great battle. Both the Titans and Broncos will be trying to continue their momentum off the back of strong wins in the last fortnight. Brisbane to sneak home.
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