Shannon Meyer previews the Melbourne Storm starting their new life on the Sunshine Coast, as they welcome the original SEQ coastal team – the Titans.
Two hard fought wins in two weeks for the homeless Storm: holding on in Canberra last weekend, and sneaking home against the Roosters in the thriller at Suncorp Stadium prior to that. Their current record is 7-2, and they have been racking up the wins without being too spectacular so far this season.
Gold Coast Titans
The Gold Coast are in decent form with two wins in their last three: the first an increasingly common win over the Broncos, and a win at home over the Warriors last week, a feat not achieved very often. Throw in a win against the Tigers in round four and the Titans are going at 50% over the last six weeks, which makes them the leading Queensland team since the restart of the NRL. Despite all this, the Gold Coast are still second last, and have the worst points difference of the five teams on six points.
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Paul Momirovski 3. Justin Olam 4. Brenko Lee 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Brandon Smith 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Chris Lewis 15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 16. Marion Seve 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 18. Albert Vete 19. Nicholas Hynes 20. Ryley Jacks 21. Darryn Schonig.
Big news here is Cameron Munster being named for an unlikely comeback from injury. Whether he starts is the big question, and the ever reliable Ryley Jacks will no doubt deputise if needed. Or even Nicho Hynes could be given a go where he played for the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Jesse Bromwich is out and Brandon Smith has shifted to prop as cover. Felise Kaufusi returns, which pushes Tino Fa’asuamaleaui to the bench.
Hynes has been named in the squad again, and given the magic he has weaved at Sunshine Coast Stadium for the Falcons, hopefully he gets more than the three minutes he got last weekend in Canberra.
Gold Coast Titans
1. Corey Thompson 2. Anthony Don 3. Brian Kelly 4. Phillip Sami 5. Treymain Spry 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Erin Clark 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. Beau Fermor 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Jai Arrow 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Tyrone Peachey 16. Sam Lisone 17. Jarrod Wallace 18. Sam Stone 19. Jai Whitbread 20. Nathan Peats 21. Greg Lelesiuao.
The Titans get some speed and power returning to their backline, with Brian Kelly and Phillip Sami back in the side this weekend.
Bryce Cartwright is out of the Titans side, which is debatable as being a loss or a gain.
Melbourne should have no problem playing in Queensland: they have won 11 straight games there, going back to 2015, and 16 of their last 17 matches. The only blemish in the middle being a 38-36 loss to the Titans in 2017.
Melbourne haven’t lost a game in Queensland on a Friday since the Titans beat them in 2010.
The Titans lost three in a row against the Storm after that win, but have a 50% record against them in neutral venues.
Gold Coast last won back-to-back games in April 2019, and they have managed it once each season going back to 2017, so are overdue for a back-to-back sequence.
Melbourne should be reasonably comfortable on the Sunshine Coast. Nearly half of their current team have played for their feeder side the Sunshine Coast Falcons, a number of them in the 2017 Queensland Cup Grand Final loss to the PNG Hunters.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Cameron Munster v Ashley Taylor; Ryan Papenhuyzen v Corey Thompson
The battle of the halves will likely determine the winner of this match, especially if Munster plays for the Storm. But if Ashley Taylor wants to step up in a big match, then against the Storm and the incumbent Queensland five eighth is a great time. The Storm also have a massive experience advantage in the number nine position.
As a fan of the custodian, another great battle to watch will be the one at the back, with both the Storm and Titans blessed with great fullbacks, each likeable for different reasons. Ryan Papenhuyzen is the silky skilled fullback and game winner (as he proved against the Roosters), and Corey Thompson makes up for any lack of height with a ferocious desire to be involved in the game. The above battle will determine how much room and time they get this weekend.
Melbourne by 10.
Date: Friday July 17
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium