James Cusack previews the clash between the last placed Gold Coast Titans and the Brisbane Broncos.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Gold Coast Titans
The Titans will be looking to break a four-game losing streak when they host big brother on Saturday night. Last week they were competitive for the first half against the high-flying Melbourne Storm, though they fell away in the second half when the pressure arrived.
Brisbane have been very inconsistent, and should be higher than 10th after 18 rounds, but injuries and form have interrupted their season. They have won two out of their last three, including one draw with the Warriors, and will be liking their chances when they visit the lowly Titans on Saturday.
Gold Coast Titans
Good news for the Titans, with English Test star Kallum Watkins finally cleared to make his NRL debut this weekend.
The 28-year-old has been in Australia for almost a month since his mid-season transfer to the Titans from the Leeds Rhinos, but has been held back from playing his first game while the club waited on clearance of his Visa.
Kevin Proctor has been promoted to co-captain with Tyrone Roberts for this weekend’s clash, while Alexander Brimson will shift into the halves with Michael Gordon back at fullback.
Also, Tyrone Peachey will also make his return from a pectoral injury, coming off the bench.
Gold Coast Titans’ squad: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Dale Copley 3. Kallum Watkins 4. Brian Kelly 5. Phillip Sami 6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Alexander Brimson 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Jack Stockwell 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. Jai Whitbread 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 16. Leilani Latu 17. Sam Stone 18. Ryley Jacks 19. Mitch Rein 20. Will Matthews 21. Brenko Lee.
Matt Gillett will return for the Broncos in this must-win clash. Tevita Pangai junior will move into Thomas Flegler’s number 13 jersey as he accepted his one week suspension, while David Fifita holds his position as the other second rower.
Alex Glenn will once again fill a role in the centres after doing a fine job against the Bulldogs.
Brisbane Broncos’ squad: 1. Anthony Milford 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Alex Glenn 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. Darius Boyd 7. Jake Turpin 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Payne Haas 11. David Fifita 12. Matt Gillett 13. Tevita Pangai 14. James Segeyaro 15. Joe Ofahengaue 16. Rhys Kennedy 17. Patty Carrigan 18. Keenan Palasia 19. Herbie Farnworth 20. Xavier Coates 21. Gehamat Shibasaki.
HEAD TO HEAD
These sides have played each other 26 times, with the Broncos holding a dominant 19 to 7 lead. The Gold Coast will take some confidence knowing they beat the Broncos in round 13 by 8 points.
Brisbane have played on 12 occasions at Cbus Super Stadium, winning 8 of them at a 66 per cent win rate. The last victory there was a 34-0 drubbing in July last year.
Tyrone Roberts vs Darius Boyd.
The battle of the captains will play a massive role in deciding who wins. Roberts has a somewhat better than average season; with his normal halves partner Ash Taylor absent for the last couple of weeks he has had to take the reins. Scoring 6 tries and setting up 11 others has been a good sign for the Titans in a dismal season. If Roberts can lead from the front and put pressure on Brisbane’s back three with his kicking game, the home side will be right in the contest.
On the other hand, the much-maligned Brisbane skipper has had a below-par year; his form has been talked about in the media most weeks this season. However, the past few games – especially last week’s win against the Bulldogs – saw Boyd improve. The move to five-eighth has done wonders for him and seen the Broncos win the past few games. If he keeps up his form the Broncos should win comfortably. His partnership with young halfback Jake Turpin will be key as they are just starting to gel together nicely since Boyd switched positions.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Saturday July 27
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
Referee: Ben Cummins and Belinda Sharpe
WHO WILL WIN?
The Broncos will prove too much for the Titans, as they edge closer to the top eight with a convincing 14-point victory.
Brisbane by 14.