To close round 1, the Gold Coast Titans will host Canberra Raiders at CBUS Super Stadium on Sunday night.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Gold Coast Titans
Gold Coast met the Brisbane Broncos in their first and only trial, they went down 25-22, however they looked very impressive with their top squad on. The Titans lead 18-0 after 21 minutes then rested their first graders, coach Garth Brennan will be very impressed with how his side went in the first trial.
The Raiders come into this season after a 10th place finish last season after losing 8 games by six points or less, they will look to those demons to bed this year and started off the year with a bang, winning both trials against the Parramatta Eels and Canterbury Bulldogs respectively.
Gold Coast Titans
Michael Gordon will start at fullback holding off AJ Brimson, who will start on the bench. New signing Tyrone Roberts will start in the halves along side Ashley Taylor, prized recruits Tyrone Peachey (centre) and Shannon Boyd (prop) will both start the match.
Gold Coast Titans 21-man squad: 1 Michael Gordon 2 Brenko Lee 3 Tyrone Peachey 4 Brian Kelly 5 Phillip Sami 6 Tyrone Robers 7 Ash Taylor 8 Jarrod Wallace 9 Nathan Peats 10 Shannon Boyd 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Ryan James 13 Jai Arrow. Interchange: 14 AJ Brimson 15 Moeaki Fotuaika 16 Max King 17 Bryce Cartwright Reserves: 18 Mitch Rein 19 Dane Copley 20 Anthony Don 21 Keegan Hipgrave.
The Raiders have named five new faces in their new look 17, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Bailey Simonsson, John Bateman, Ryan Sutton and Corey Horsburgh will all make their Raiders debuts. Nicoll-Klokstad will play fullback, with the Raiders naming Jack Wighton to make his return at five-eight, Jordan Rapana and Michael Oldfield are both missing through injury paving the way for Simonsson to make his debut on the wing. John Bateman will play lock, Sutton and Horsburgh will both start on the bench.
Canberra Raiders 21-man squad: 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2 Nick Cotric 3 Jarrod Croker 4 Joseph Leilua 5 Bailey Simonsson 6 Jack Wighton 7 Aidan Sezer 8 Josh Papalii 9 Josh Hodgson 10 Sia Soliola 11 Joe Tapine 12 Elliott Whitehead 13 John Bateaman Interchange: 14 Siliva Havili 15 Ryan Sutton 16 Dunamis Luis 17 Corey Horsburgh Reserves: 18 Sam Williams 19 Jack Murchie 20 Luke Bateman 21 JJ Collins.
HEAD TO HEAD
Canberra will have nightmares heading to the Gold Coast in Round 1, after blowing an unassailable lead last year to lose 30-28 in dramatic circumstances. The ‘Green Machine’ got off to a terrific start scoring three tries in 12 minutes and taking a 24-12 lead at halftime, then it was all the Titans who scored three tries in the second half, including a late match-winner to Konrad Hurrell. The Raiders will be keen to eradicate their demise from round 1 last year. The two sides met on another occasion as well last season, Canberra won pretty comfortably on home-soil 32-18 with Jarrod Croker leading his side with an impressive 14-point individual haul.
Gold Coast and Canberra have met on 22 previous occasions, with the Titans leading the series with 12 victories to the Raiders 10. Canberra have been inconsistent in their travels up north to the Gold Coast, they have only won four out of the last eight at CBUS Super Stadium.
Gold Coast boast a huge pack, new signing Shannon Boyd will join an already impressive set of forwards Ryan James, Jarrod Wallace, Kevin Proctor and Jai Arrow. Canberra have downsized and will go for a more mobile pack, Josh Papalii and Iosia Soliola will be the two starting props after they lost big men Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo to other clubs. It’s a battle between size and stamina, the Titans will be hoping to over power the Raiders, while Canberra will be looking for more duration out their pack. Both sets of forwards boast some enormous talent, the Raiders have arguably the best back row in the competition with Joe Tapine, Elliot Whitehead and John Bateman all international players.
If Gold Coast can get duration out of their monster pack, they will go a long way in winning this clash. Canberra must allow their forwards to play at the back of their classy hooker Josh Hodgson who will steer the ship once again and will lay a platform for his forwards to get going. This clash could go either way, but it will definitely be won in battle up-front.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday March 17
Venue: CBUS Super Stadium
Kick-off: 5:10pm (local)
Referees: David Munro and Liam Kennedy
WHO WILL WIN?
A match where both sides will be looking to hit the ground running, both are traditionally slow starters and a win here would be the perfect way to kick-start an assault towards a quest to play finals. Canberra are an attacking threat who can score points at will, Gold Coast have a terrific forward pack and will make plenty of metres. Both sides will ask plenty of questions and with memories of last year still fresh in the head of the Raiders, look for them to erase their round 1 collapse from last year to scrape a narrow victory.
Raiders by 6.