Andrew Pelechaty previews the Gold Coast Titans opening Super Saturday by hosting Canberra. This is what we have to look forward to.
Gold Coast Titans
The Titans (4-10) had another honourable loss to a top eight side, this time falling to Cronulla-Sutherland 30-18 at Kogarah Oval. The match turned on one big moment in the second half. The Titans were in the game up to their eyeballs, with the scores tied 12-12, when captain Kevin Proctor (playing his 250th game) was sent off for allegedly biting Shaun Johnson in the 55th minute. Like an actual shark, Cronulla sniffed blood and went in for the kill, scoring three tries in six minutes to turn the deadlock into a 30-12 lead. While Keegan Hipgrave scored a late try, the Titans had squandered a genuine chance to win. Proctor is named this week, but his fate rests in the judiciary’s hands.
It may have taken 40 minutes longer than expected, but Canberra (9-5) finally ran through a bottom eight side, beating Brisbane 36-8 at Bruce. The win lifted Canberra to equal fourth, though a long way behind the Sydney Roosters on points differential.
Coming off a torrid week (with events that even the hackiest soap opera writer would bin for being too unrealistic), Brisbane dominated the first half possession, leading 8-6 at halftime. Ricky Stuart must have stripped the paint off the walls at halftime, as the Raiders rebounded in the second half, with five tries (two to Nick Cotric). More importantly, they kept a clean sheet defensively, stopping a late Broncos try. The question is, was this a false dawn against a broken Broncos team, or a sign that Canberra’s attack is clicking in time for the finals?
Gold Coast Titans
1. Alexander Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Brian Kelly 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Phillip Sami 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Moeaki Fotuaika 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Sam Lisone 16. Beau Fermor 17. Sam Stone 18. Corey Thompson 19. Tanah Boyd 20. Jai Whitbread 21. Erin Clark.
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Jordan Rapana 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Siliva Havili 10. Dunamis Lui 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Hudson Young 14. Tom Starling 15. Joseph Tapine 16. Ryan Sutton 17. Corey Harawira-Naera 18. Sam Williams 19. Harley Smith-Shields 20. Kai O’Donnell 21. Matt Frawley.
The head-to-head is even between these sides: 12-12 since 2007, and the Titans winning eight from 14 at Robina. Canberra have won three of the last four on the Gold Coast, with the Titans sneaking a 30-28 comeback win in round one, 2018, setting a precedent for the miserable “Faders” that season. Canberra comfortably won their opening round clash in 2020 (24-6), with two tries to Jack Wighton in the first 13 minutes ensuring there was no grand final hangover for the Raiders.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Ashley Taylor v Jack Wighton
A crucial five-eighth battle could decide this one.
Taylor has been a big part of the Titans’ improved performances, playing in wins against the Warriors and Cowboys, and the close losses to Penrith, Melbourne, and Cronulla-Sutherland, playing full minutes in most of those games.
If the Titans are to pull off an upset, then Taylor will need to lead his side, especially if Proctor doesn’t play.
While Wighton has been a bit “rocks and diamonds” lately, he always follows up any mistakes with a big tackle or run to make up for it.
If Wighton’s in the mood to run and has an aggressive kicking game, then Canberra will have a big afternoon.
While the Titans are in the bottom four, they’ve shown a lot of spirit recently, so this won’t be the walkover Canberra enjoyed against Brisbane. While the Raiders should have too much class, the Titans will stick with them all the way.
Canberra by six.
Date: Saturday, August 22.
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast.