In the second-last round of the regular season the boys from the Glitter Strip host the ladder-leading Melbourne Storm, and I’m predicting an upset.
The Storm’s leader Cameron Smith has been named despite carrying an injury; the Titans have nothing much else to play for and it’s games like this that they love to dig deep in.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Titans came away with a 42-34 win against Manly last week. Melbourne Storm beat the Eels 20-4 last Friday.
Gold Coast Titans
In the only change, Will Matthews replaces Bryce Cartwright on the bench.
Justin Olam replaces centre Will Chambers, who copped a suspension with that crusher tackle. Cheyse Blair is in for winger Suliasi Vunivalu (hamstring). Tui Kamikamica and Ryley Jacks replace Nelson Asofa-Solomona (ankle) and Brandon Smith (knee) on the bench. Tim Glasby and Christian Welch swap starting and bench roles. Smith has been named despite suffering back spasms last week.
Melbourne beat Gold Coast 28-14 at Suncorp Stadium in round 10. Gold Coast lead 14-8 with 30 minutes left before Felise Kaufusi, Cameron Munster and Josh Addo-Carr secured the win.
This will be the battle of the fullbacks. Billy Slater has set the benchmark, debuting in round one 2003 and playing for Queensland and Australia. This is his final season and his team will be wanting another tilt at premiership glory.
For the Titans coach Brennan has moved AJ Brimson from the halves to fullback, which the young Titan is relishing. Brimson has been a revelation for this squad. Since his debut he has shown his free-running style of attack and his potent running off passes. At 19 he should be locked up as a deputy to Ash Taylor on a long-term deal, especially with Kane Elgey signing with Manly.
For the Titans to win
One of the most inconsistent sides in the league, which gets very frustrating for their fans (take that from a always passionate one right here), but they are versatile, resilient and building towards success. Brennan is the one to lead the next phase of the rebuild into 2019. Taylor needs to reignite his form of old and work with Brimson in attack.
For the Storm to win
With the finals only a couple of weeks away, coach Craig Bellamy will be demanding a high-intensity performance. If Smith is out, his long-time teammate Slater will have to provide leadership and direction.
Titans winger Anthony Don equalled the club’s all-time try-scoring record when he crossed in the fourth minute of last week’s comeback win over Manly. Don has scored 67 tries in 107 games with the Titans, joining former winger David Mead, who finished with 67 tries in 147 games with the club.
A heavy casualty toll left Melbourne without a single player on the interchange bench for most of the second half last week. And even when they were reduced to 12 men with Cameron Munster’s sin-binning, the Storm still didn’t crack.
Gold Coast Titans
1. AJ Brimson, 2. Anthony Don, 3. Konrad Hurrell, 4. Brenko Lee, 5. Phillip Sami, 6. Kane Elgey, 7. Ashley Taylor, 8. Jarrod Wallace, 9. Nathan Peats, 10. Ryan James, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Keegan Hipgrave, 13. Jai Arrow.
Interchange: 14. Mitch Rein, 15. Moeaki Fotuaika, 16. Jack Stockwell, 17. Will Matthews.
Reserves: 18. Bryce Cartwright, 19. Jai Whitbread, 20. Leilani Latu, 21. Brendan Elliot.
1. Billy Slater, 2. Cheyse Blair, 3. Justin Olam, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Brodie Croft, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Tim Glasby, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Joe Stimson, 13. Dale Finucane.
Interchange: 14. Tui Kamikamica, 15. Christian Welch, 16. Kenneath Bromwich, 17. Ryley Jacks.
Reserves: 18. Scott Drinkwater, 19. Sam Kasiano, 20. Albert Vete, 21. Jahrome Hughes.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday 25th August
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
WHO WILL WIN?
THE BEARDED ONE’S FINAL THOUGHT
I see an upset on the cards. Bellamy is the best coach in the league and he will be looking to rest Smith to keep him fresh leading into the finals. Missing Chambers adds to the vulnerability of Melbourne’s pack. The Titans to take this one by a single kick and Brimson to show he is the best pick for fullback.
Gold Coast by two.