Cormac Pearson previews the top versus the bottom clash as the high-flying Storm take on the struggling Titans in Melbourne.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After their thrilling loss to the Raiders, the Storm have now lost two of their last four games, which is a rarity for the super club. Bellamy and his men have been under fire as the wrestling conversation that has followed Melbourne over the last decade resumes. They will be looking to ignore the noise and put in a full performance against the Gold Coast at AAMI Park.
Gold Coast Titans
The Titans are staring down the barrel of their 11th consecutive loss and seem to have lost a bit of fight since losing their coach Garth Brennan. Even though they are playing purely for pride now, their future is bright with young stars in Brian Kelly, AJ Brimson and Jai Arrow. If the Titans can pull together a strong 80 minutes they’ll go a fair way to challenging the Storm.
Despite the loss, the Storm are going into Sunday with an unchanged starting lineup, although Brandon Smith returns to the bench (ankle) in place of Tino Faasuamaleaui. Young centre Curtis Scott is a welcome addition to the reserves as he comes back from a foot injury.
Melbourne Storm’s squad: 1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tui Kamikamica 16. Joe Stimson 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen 18. Curtis Scott 19. Tom Eisenhuth 20. Max King 21. Harry Grant.
Gold Coast Titans
On the other hand interim coach Craig Hodges has moved AJ Brimson to the bench for veteran Michael Gordon, Jarrod Wallace – on the bench – returns in place for Bryce Cartwright with Nathan Peats and Jai Arrow moving into the starting side.
Gold Coast Titans’ squad: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kallum Watkins 4. Brian Kelly 5. Phillip Sami 6. Tyrone Peachey 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Mitch Rein 10. Jai Arrow 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Sam Stone 13. Nathan Peats 14. Alexander Brimson 15. Jai Whitbread 16. Jarrod Wallace 17. Brenko Lee 18. Bryce Cartwright 19. Tanah Boyd 20. Anthony Don 21. Jack Stockwell.
HEAD TO HEAD
Out of the twenty games these two clubs have played, Melbourne have won fourteen, including the last time the two sides played, which Melbourne won 38-18 at the Gold Coast. The game followed the theme that has haunted Gold Coast all year, falling out of games after half-time. The Titans ran out with two tries in the first ten minutes and were only down by four at halftime. They didn’t score again in the game and ended up losing by 20. The Titans desperately need to look for that urgency in the second half if they want any momentum going into next year.
This week’s key battle lies in the halves, more specifically the sixes. Two firebrand footballers with bucketloads of talent come up against one another, one with Dally M aspirations and the other one game away from form. You guessed it, Cameron Munster and Tyrone Peachey are this weekend’s key battle. Munster has been in electrifying form this year, sitting as one of the favourites to take out the NRL’s most illustrious prize. The boy from Central Queensland has racked up 13 try assists, 12 line-break assists and 7 tries. Unfortunately for the Titans, Munster will be eager to put on a show for the Melbourne crowd after the loss last week. If his forwards can get on the front foot it could be mean real trouble for the travelling Titans.
Peachey, on the other hand, has struggled for form this year, but has been moved around and played in a multitude of positions. While this is one of his strengths, this also means he hasn’t been able to settle into a position in the side. Although we know the constant threat that Peachey imposes, he is one of the game’s most dangerous players in broken play and can make something out of nothing. Hopefully he has been given the licence to run and run because that is his strongest feature. For the 28-year-old to be at his best he needs to get involved early and stay involved, get some quick ball and defend well.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: August 26th, 2019
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 2pm AEST
Referee: Chris Butler & Dave Munro.
WHO WILL WIN?
This one is going to be pretty straightforward in my eyes, with Melbourne looking to impose some damage after their loss on the weekend. Melbourne will win and win easily.
Melbourne by 24.