Lachy MacCorquodale previews the round nine clash between the Gold Coast Titans and the New Zealand Warriors. This is what we have to look forward to.
Gold Coast Titans
The Gold Coast are coming off a 30-point defeat to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, but despite the scoreline the Titans were able to give them a fight in the first half before falling away in the second half. Although they’re in pretty decent form by Gold Coast standards: winning two of their previous five matches (over the Wests Tigers and the Brisbane Broncos). Justin Holbrook hasn’t been afraid to chop and change his team as he sees fit, but the one main constant in his side has been the impressive Moeaki Fotuaika, who has improved each week and is going to be a big part of this club moving forward.
The Warriors bounced back last week with a 10-point victory over the struggling Brisbane Broncos and the side from across the ditch have won three of their six games since the resumption of the competition, with wins over St. George-Illawarra, North Queensland and now Brisbane. They have surprised everyone since the competition restarted and there’s no reason why they couldn’t come away with the two points this weekend, especially with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returning to the side. Caretaker coach Todd Payten received his first win as an NRL coach on the weekend and I’m sure that he and his players will be eyeing to add the that tally on Friday night.
Gold Coast Titans
1. Corey Thompson 2. Anthony Don 3. Beau Femor 4. Bryce Cartwright 5. Treymain Spry 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Erin Clark 10. Jaimin Joliffe 11. Sam Stone 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Jai Arrow 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Sam Lisone 16. Tyrone Peachey 17. Jarrod Wallace 18. Jai Whitbread 19. Nathan Peats 20. Greg Leleisiauo 21. Tyrone Roberts.
Corey Thompson moves back to fullback with Tyrone Roberts dropping out of the starting 17. Twenty-year-old Treymain Spry is set to make his debut on the wing. Beau Fermor moves to centre with Sam Stone moving into the starting back row and Tyrone Peachey moving to the bench. Erin Clark comes in at hooker for Mitch Rein, who is out with an ankle injury.
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Patrick Herbert 4. Peta Hiku 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita 7. Blake Green 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Wayde Egan 10. Adam Blair 11. Jack Murchie 12. Tohu Harris 13. Karl Lawton 14. Agnatius Paasi 15. Jack Hetherington 16. Isaiah Papali’i 17. Jazz Tevaga 18. Lachlan Burr 20. Gerard Beale 21. King Vuniyayawa 22. Adam Pompey.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returns to fullback after serving his one-game suspension, with Peta Hiku moving back into the centres and Gerard Beale dropping out of the 17. Chanel Harris-Tavita starts at five-eighth with Kodi Nikorima out with a head knock and Jazz Tevaga makes his long awaited return on the bench. Karl Lawton has been named at lock, switching with Tohu Harris who moves back into the second row.
The Gold Coast Titans and the NZ Warriors have met on 26 occasions, with the Warriors winning 18 of those matches. This includes the Warriors winning eight of their past nine meetings dating back to 2015. Despite their poor performances against the Warriors over the past few years, the Titans will be expecting to bring it to the Warriors as they’ll believe that this is a winnable game. The Warriors are in the same boat: these two sides don’t have too many opportunities to win games over the course of the season and they’ll both be looking to come away with the two points.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Ashley Taylor v Blake Green
Both playmakers are vital to how their side performs on any given day. Ashley Taylor has found some much-needed form and has accumulated five try assists and six forced drop outs so far, a vast improvement on his performance last season. He has looked much more comfortable in attack this season and is starting to grow into his boots. His defence still needs some work, but he’ll be looking forward to the opportunity of guiding the Titans to a win against the Warriors.
His counterpart is coming fresh off a win against the Brisbane Broncos in which his kicking game was a major factor. Blake Green has provided his attacking weapons with six try assists this season and six forced drop outs to go with it. The veteran will be relieved to have Roger Tuivasa-Sheck back in the side this week; he’ll be sure that he gives his fullback enough space to cause havoc and show why he’s one of the best fullbacks in the competition. This game could be decided on how either of these two halves play; if they both bring their best games, it could be an exciting encounter between these two sides.
This is a tough game to predict as both teams have struggled throughout the season, but have also caused an upset or two. The Titans and the Warriors could each win on their day and the result really depends on which version of each team we are going to get. Having said that though, I think the week off for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will have him and his Warriors fired up, and for that reason I think the Warriors will just come away with the two points.
Warriors by four.
Date: Friday, 10th July.
Venue: CBUS Super Stadium, Gold Coast.