Preview: Gold Coast Titans vs New Zealand Warriors

Who could’ve possibly seen this coming at the beginning of the year, let alone at the beginning of the week? Arguably the biggest superstar in Rugby League, Jarryd Hayne, is set to take the field on Sunday afternoon for the Gold Coast Titans, who are sitting in 7th position despite being unanimous favourites for the wooden spoon in the pre-season. The match was already set to be a blockbuster with the Titans looking to hold onto their position in the top 8 against the 8th placed Warriors, and the arrival of Hayne is set to draw the Gold Coast’s biggest crowd in years. In a big blow for the New Zealanders, hooker Isaac Luke has been ruled out for up to a month with a knee injury. While the Warriors have lost their star hooker, the Titans have received a massive boost with Nathan Peats to return from a hamstring injury.

Last Time Out
The Titans have had just a 6 day turn around after a gruelling 90 minute battle in which they finally brought an end to Cronulla’s incredible 15 game winning streak. A ten minute period of extra time couldn’t seperate the two sides, who left everything they had on the field to finish at 18-18 in what is being described as the game of the season. Titans halfback Tyrone Roberts was unable to take the field for Golden Point, and has been sidelined for several weeks with a knee injury.

The Warriors will also be recovering after Saturday’s 89 minute thriller against Penrith was their 4th golden point game in their past 5 matches. A brilliant one-on-one strip by Solomone Kata gifted them with possession, and with just one minute left of play, the Warriors used some Shaun Johnson magic to get over the line. The Warriors played well, however they will need to address the 13 errors they made throughout the game.

Key Battle
If it wasn’t for Jarryd Hayne’s arrival, all the talk for this game would centre around barnstorming Titans centre Konrad Hurrell’s first clash against his former side, which he departed just months ago. Hurrell has quickly found the form that makes him one of the most devastating ball runners in the competition, and he is set for a mouth watering clash with fellow Tongan centre Solomone Kata, who effectively took his position as the Warriors go to weapon. Both players are tackle busting machines, and it will be intriguing to see the two attempt to one up each other and get their sides on the front foot with their inspired charges.

Both sides will be a bit worse to wear after gruelling encounters last weekend, however with this clash being so important to both teams finals aspirations, nothing short of a thriller should be expected. The Titans have a wild card up their sleeves in the form of 2 time Dally M winner Jarryd Hayne, however after 2 years out of the game, predicting his form on Sunday is like taking a stab in the dark. After showing they can compete with the top sides against the Sharks and with a packed crowd behind them, the Titans should be strong enough to get the vital two points on offer.

Titans by 8

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