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2021 NRL Round 18 Preview, Titans Vs Eels

Nathan Smith previews the Round 18 clash between the Gold Coast Titans and Parramatta Eels. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: CBus Super Stadium, Gold Coast, Date: 16/7, Time: 6:00pm

Titans Team

1. Alexander Brimson
2. Phillip Sami
3. Brian Kelly
4. Patrick Herbert
5. Corey Thompson
6. Ashley Taylor
7. Jamal Fogarty
8. Jarrod Wallace
9. Erin Clark
10. Moeaki Fotuaika
11. Kevin Proctor
12. David Fifita
13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14. Tyrone Peachey
15. Sam Lisone
16. Jaimin Jolliffe
17. Beau Fermor
18. Sam McIntyre
19. Sam Stone
20. Herman Ese’ese
21. Jayden Campbell
22. Mitch Rein

Team Changes

IN: Herman Ese’ese, Hayden Campbell, Mitch Rein, Sam McIntyre
OUT:

Eels Team

1. Clinton Gutherson
2. Maika Sivo
3. Tom Opacic
4. Waqa Blake
5. Haze Dunster
6. Dylan Brown
7. Mitchell Moses
8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
9. Reed Mahoney
10. Junior Paulo
11. Isaiah Papali’i
12. Ryan Matterson
13. Nathan Brown
14. Marata Niukore
15. Shaun Lane
16. Oregon Kaufusi
17. Bryce Cartwright
18. Will Penisini
19. Will Smith
20. Joey Lussick
21. Jakob Arthur
22. Keegan Hipgrave

Team Changes

IN: Jake Arthur, Keegan Hipgrave, Reed Mahoney, Will Penisini
OUT:

Referee: Matt Cecchin

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Gold Coast Titans

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Prior to their bye round, the Gold Coast posted an impressive 44-6 win over Canberra. It was a necessary response to a 56-24 belting at the hands of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles the week before. Though they’ve had a largely inconsistent season, they’re within two points of the top eight, and would earn the right to sneak in there by knocking off a top four team in the Parramatta Eels.

No changes have been made from the side that put in the Titans’ best performance of the year against Canberra. The only question will be whether AJ Brimson, Moeaki Fotuaika and Tino Fa’asumaleaui back up from Origin, which might be in doubt given this game is only two days later.

Parramatta Eels

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Prior to their bye round, the Parramatta Eels were brave in defeat against the Penrith Panthers. In the end, it was a heartbreaking penalty goal miss that saw the lose 13-12. The positive for the Eels was it was demonstrative of their ability to compete with Penrith, as there have been suggestions the top two teams are well beyond the rest of the competition. They will be looking to put in a strong performance against the Titans as they begin to build towards the finals series.

The Eels welcome back their hooker Reed Mahoney, who has been vital to a lot of their success this season. Their team is otherwise unchanged, though they too will have question marks over whether Mitchell Moses and Junior Paulo back up from Origin.

PREVIEW

The top four is close to set, though the order isn’t. Positions five to eight are in a state of flux, with a plethora of teams vying for a finals spot.

This in itself outlines the two narratives coming into this match. The Eels are fourth, but could finish higher. They would earn a home game in the opening round if they were to manage to reach second (pending Sydney’s COVID situation settles).

The Titans are two points outside of the eight and need to be winning each game leading towards the finals. With a handful of games to go, every loss sets them back a step.

Both sides boast impressive forward packs that should make for a fantastic contest. You have Origin rivals Junior Paulo and Moeaki Fotuaika, the two big second-rowers in Ryan Matterson and David Fifita, and Nathan Brown and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who will go to war in the middle of the field.

This battle will go a long way to deciding the outcome of the game. It will be a dry, fast track, and might come down to which forward pack has more juice in the engine to set the stage for their backs.

KEY STAT

Overall, the Titans have posted more wins against the Eels, having won 11 of their 20 encounters. Further, they’ve won 7 of their 11 at CBus Super Stadium. Interestingly, the points difference is minimal: with the Titans having posted 434 to the Eels’ 423. There’s little between them, but the stats certainly suggest that the home ground offers some benefit to the Titans.

PREDICTION

On what should be a fast, dry track, both teams will have points in them. The Titans will be full of confidence coming off of their big win against the Raiders, and there’s no doubt the Eels would have found a few positives in their loss against the Panthers. In the end, the Eels should have too much class for the Titans, and come away with this comfortably.

Eels by 16

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