Mitch Dransfield previews the first friday night match of Indigenous round with the Manly Sea Eagles at home against Gold Coast Titans.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Manly Sea Eagles
An injury-riddled Manly side continues to impress with a win against the Sharks at Cronulla in round 10. The visitors being more enthusiastic while playing simple, frustrated the home side with the Sea Eagles winning 24-14.
Gold Coast Titans
Gold Coast hosted Canterbury last round with the Titans jumping out the gate with a 16-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes. The Bulldogs crawled back into the match just before the half scoring two tries, the Titans were not able to put any more points on in the match with the Dogs finishing with two four-pointers to have the Coast lose 22-16.
Manly Sea Eagles
The home side is unchanged from their win over Cronulla last round.
Manly Sea Eagles squad: 1. Brendan Elliott 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brad Parker 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Cade Cust 7. Kane Elgey 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Manase Fainu 15. Jack Gosiewski 16. Corey Waddell 17. Morgan Boyle 18. Taniela Paseka 19. Jade Anderson 20. Haumole Olakau’atu 21. Lloyd Perrett
Gold Coast Titans
Gold Coast changes see Moeaki Fotuakia regaining his starting spot at Jack Stockwell’s expense while Keegan Hipgrave and Shannon Boyd return via the bench.
Gold Coast Titans squad:1. Alexander Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Jesse Arthars 4. Brian Kelly 5. Dale Copley 6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ash Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. Jai Arrow 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Shannon Boyd 16. Keegan Hipgrave 17. Jai Whitbread 18. Jack Stockwell 19. Max King 20. Ryley Jacks 21. Will Matthews
HEAD TO HEAD
In previous meetings these two sides have produced high scoring matches that usually have a team come from behind to win, which in both matches in 2018 the Gold Coast team were able to comeback to win 42-34 and 32-20. Out of the entirety of matches that the Sea Eagles have gone head to head with Titans its quite evenly split with Manly just ahead with 10 victories out of the 18 fixtures they’ve had over the years with a healthy rivalry being had with the two coastal teams.
The Manly side well in the top 8 this season is the 5th best defensively in the league currently, it was thw complete opposite case in defence last season which resulted in those heavy defeats to Titans. The last results in this matchup could be all but erased this season with the Sea Eagles favourites in this contest hosting the visitors in Gold Coast who have been conceding big scores to oppositions with little effect in defence.
These two giant forward packs will without a doubt shape the outcome of the match with state of origin just around the corner, it will be a key matchup that could be seen also in that arena with the lock forwards of both these teams in the Titans Jai Arrow and Sea Eagles middle man Jake Trbojevic. These players are in superb form heading into the state v state competition with both putting in their all every week win or lose which these two have built their game around, whether its chopping tackles or tackle-breaking runs with quick play the balls, these superstars are in for one fierce dress rehearsal before origin.
Arrow has been a standout for the Gold Coast outfit with efforts throughout the ten rounds of footy that has passed showing why he will be one of the first picked for the Queensland Maroons. The Titans lock has improved in his fitness across the board being able to play big minutes for coach Garth Brennan while laying a platform for his halves to work off that many other sides would be envious of. Not only is Jai a hard man to tackle with 28 tackle breaks this season he also is equipped with deceptively good line speed which allows for hit-ups at the defence which creates plenty of post contact metres, these will also be the factors which Arrow will need to use to be at his best to influence the match against his opposing lock.
The Manly lock Trbojevic is well known around the league now for being one of the toughest players to come up against. The ball-playing ability of Jake this season has gone under the radar even more so with the forward a well established New South Wales Blue being able to time his runs and passing while throwing dummies to perfection making it a nightmare for the opponents to contain. The service that Trbojevic gives his halves is a two pass set play which has him digging into the line and becoming a third playmaker for the Sea Eagles, If the Manly side is to come away with the win Jake will want to switch through his playmaking abilites when in possession of the ball as much as possible while making his forty axing tackles he’s had on average.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 24th May
Referee: Matt Cecchin
WHO WILL WIN?
This fixture will hold many battle across the park with a new formed rivalry through multiple high scoring games but also the players that have come and gone from each club with Manly now playing three ex-Titans in Kane Elgey, Brendan Elliot and Morgan Boyle while Gold Coast picked up Brian Kelly to their roster before the season from the Sea Eagles. This game will have many ebbs and flows in attack but the trump card that the home side possesses in defence will most likely frustrate the playmakers of the Titans and limit their options, which in turn will allow Manly to counterattack and most likely post a fair few points and concede little points down their end.
The Titans are still finding their feet with new forwards coming in and out of rotation each week, they will struggle to contain what has been an impressive performance for the Sea Eagles forwards in the likes of Martin Taupau, Addin Fonua-Blake and Jake Trbojevic in the past month without key players. The match should be high scoring affair once again however there will be no mistake that the home side will come away with the win and potentially a big one at that.
Prediction: Sea Eagles by 18