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Preview: Gold Coast Titans vs Canberra Raiders

The Raiders will travel to the Gold Coast on Sunday, in a battle which will see the winner solidify their place in the top eight for a further week. This game is far from do or die, however with a log jam of teams sitting just beneath them, the 7th placed Raiders and 8th placed Titans will be desperate to claim the two points.

After a damaging game for Queensland on Wednesday night, Raiders forward Josh Papalii is expected to back up on Sunday. His NSW opponent Greg Bird is also expected to back up for the Titans.

Last Time Out

The Titans were strong against a weakened Manly side on Monday night, however they could have been even more dominant given the poorness of their opponents. The Titans looked unstoppable during a ten minute burst in which they crossed for three well executed tries, before settling down and only crossing for two more tries in the second half. The Titans goal line defence was strong against Manly, however it will need to lift further against threats such as Joseph Leilua, Jordan Rapana and Blake Austin.

The Raiders are fresh off their first bye of the season last week, and went down to the Broncos 26-18 the week prior to that. After a three game winning streak, the green machine were brought back to earth, trailing 24-0 in the early stages of the second half. To their credit, they were able to mount a come back of sorts, however they were unable to steal the victory. The Raiders displayed some very poor goal line defence, with Darius Boyd crossing for three tries in almost identical fashion due to poor defensive reads.

Key Battle

These two sides boast two of the in-form forward packs of the competition, and the winner could be determined by which teams hooker best utilises their forward packs. Nathan Peats is coming off his best game since moving to the Gold Coast mid-season, and will wear the Titans number 9 jersey for the first time, after starting every other game from the bench. Josh Hodgson has been arguably the Raiders best player this season, with his form placing him at equal first on the Dally M leaderboard as of Round 16. Both hookers will be looking to dominate the ruck area, using their craftiness to get their forwards bursting onto the advantage line and rolling up field. With the Blues falling to another series loss on Wednesday night, there is a chance that Peats could be using this game to audition for Robbie Farah’s number 9 jersey, as many critics have called for future players to be blooded in the dead rubber.

Prediction

With a 2pm game on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the Titans great form could see them draw one of their biggest crowds of the season for this top eight battle. The home crowd advantage and their never say die attitude should be enough to get the Titans over the line in a thrilling battle.

Titans by 4

Squads
Titans: 1 William Zillman 2 Anthony Don 3 Josh Hoffman 4 Nathan Davis 5 Nene MacDonald 6 Tyrone Roberts 7 Ashley Taylor 8 Luke Douglas 9 Nathan Peats 10 Ryan James 11 John Zebelon Taia 12 Chris McQueen 13 Greg Bird. Interchange: 14 Eddy Pettybourne 15 Leivaha Pulu 16 Agnatius Paasi 17 Nathan Friend 18 Ryan Simpkins

Raiders: 1 Jack Wighton 2 Brenko Lee 3 Jarrod Croker 4 Joseph Leilua 5 Jordan Rapana 6 Blake Austin 7 Aidan Sezer 8 Junior Paulo 9 Josh Hodgson 10 Shannon Boyd 11 Josh Papalii 12 Elliot Whitehead 13 Luke Bateman. Interchange: 14 Kurt Baptiste 15 Iosia Soliola 16 Paul Vaughan 17 Joseph Tapine 18 Shaun Fensom

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