Brendan Wood previews the Sunday night clash between the Gold Coast Titans and the Wests Tigers.
Gold Coast Titans
The Titans remain anchored to the bottom of the ladder after a 36-6 blowout loss to the Cowboys in Townsville last week. They are yet to win a game this season.
The Tigers are coming off the back of a come from behind 28-16 win over the Sharks last week. They are currently in 7th position, sitting on two wins and one loss.
Gold Coast Titans
1. Tyrone Roberts, 2. Brian Kelly, 3. Dale Copley, 4. Tyrone Peachey, 5. Phil Sami, 6. Ash Taylor, 7. Jamal Fogarty, 8. Moeaki Fotuaika, 9. Erin Clark, 10. Sam Lisone, 11. Kevin Proctor (c), 12. Keegan Hipgrave, 13. Jai Arrow. Interchange: 14. Tanah Boyd, 15. Jaiman Jolliffe, 16. Bryce Cartwright, 17. Young Tonumaipea. Reserves: 18. Jarrod Wallace, 19. Jai Whitbread, 20. Anthony Don, 21. Jonus Pearson.
Tyrone Roberts returns at fullback, moving Phillip Sami back to the wing and Jonus Pearson out of the 17. Erin Clark comes into the starting side to replace Nathan Peats at hooker. Tanah Boyd, Jaiman Jolliffe, Bryce Cartwright and Young Tonumaipea make up a new look bench. Jarrod Wallace, Jai Whitbread and Shannon Boyd drop out of the 17.
1. Adam Doueihi, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Joseph Leilua, 4. Moses Mbye, 5. Robert Jennings, 6. Benji Marshall, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Josh Aloiai, 9. Harry Grant, 10. Thomas Mikaele, 11. Luke Garner, 12. Luciano Leilua, 13. Alex Twal. Interchange: 14. Oliver Clark, 15. Billy Walters, 16. Chris Lawrence, 17. Alex Sayfarth. Reserves: 18. Josh Reynolds, 19. Corey Thompson, 20. Matthew Eisenhuth, 21. Michael Chee Kam.
The Tigers have stuck with the same starting 17 that got the win over the Sharks last week. Corey Thompson returns to the squad in the reserves.
These two sides have played each other 21 times, with the Titans holding the head to head advantage 12 wins to nine. The Titans have also won five of the last seven games they’ve played against the Tigers.
If the Titans lose this game, they will have gone an entire calendar year without winning a game (currently 14 consecutive losses). Their last win came against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, 26-18 on June 9, 2019.
BATTLE TO WATCH
The battle to watch will be between the two five-eighths, Ash Taylor against Benji Marshall.
Ash Taylor has so far failed to live up to his potential after the Titans signed him from the Broncos as their future halfback. He shows glimpses of what he’s capable of with his short kicking game, but isn’t consistent enough week to week to be considered one of the games top young halves. However, he has spent some time out of the game recently and is still adjusting to new halves partner Jamal Fogarty. He’s also missing AJ Brimson, and Tyrone Roberts returns this week from injury which should steady his play. If he can continue to build his combinations and strengthen his game, he could turn out one of his better performances and lead the Titans to a much needed win.
For the Tigers, Benji Marshall is showing no signs of aging. He was instrumental in their comeback win over the Sharks last week. He worked well off the back of the new look hooking combination Harry Grant and Billy Walters, steering the ship with his composed kicking game. A feature of his game he hasn’t always had but now uses with regularity. He also has the vision to create overlaps in attacking situations to get his outside weapons the ball in good position. He won three Dally M votes last week which sums up the impact he has on the Tigers. If he turns out another performance like that this week, the Tigers will be hard to beat.
On current form, the Tigers should account for the Titans comfortably in this one. The game is being played at Suncorp Stadium where the Titans last tasted victory, but a slight home ground advantage won’t be enough to save the Titans. If the Tigers gain any sort of a lead, it may turn ugly for the Titans quickly. The Titans will have a crack, but it’s hard to see them outscoring the Tigers who have plenty of attacking fire power.
Prediction: Tigers by 12.
Date: Sunday 7 June 2020
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane