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2021 NRL Finals Week One Preview, Roosters Vs Titans

Joshua Knox previews the Elimination Final between the Sydney Roosters and the Gold Coast Titans. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Date: Saturday 11 September, Time: 5:40pm

Roosters Team

1. James Tedesco
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Josh Morris
4. Adam Keighran
5. Matt Ikuvalu
6. Drew Hutchison
7. Lachlan Lam
8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
9. Sam Verrills
10. Siosiua Taukeiaho
11. Angus Crichton
12. Sitili Tupouniua
13. Victor Radley
14. Sam Walker
15. Isaac Liu
16. Egan Butcher
17. Fletcher Baker
18. Dale Copley
19. Ben Thomas
20. Ben Marschke
21. Nafahu Whyte

Team Changes

IN: Ben Thomas, Dale Copley, Fletcher Baker, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Victor Radley
OUT: Brad Abbey, Tuku, Hau Tapuha

Titans Team

1. Jayden Campbell
2. Phillip Sami
3. Brian Kelly
4. Patrick Herbert
5. Corey Thompson
6. Tyrone Peachey
7. Jamal Fogarty
8. Jarrod Wallace
9. Mitch Rein
10. Moeaki Fotuaika
11. Kevin Proctor
12. Beau Fermor
13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14. Erin Clark
15. Sam Lisone
16. David Fifita
17. Jaimin Jolliffe
18. Sam McIntyre
19. Toby Sexton
20. Greg Marzhew
21. Anthony Don

Team Changes

IN: Anthony Don, Greg Marzhew, Kevin Proctor
OUT:

Referee: Adam Gee

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Roosters

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The Roosters come into this clash full of confidence after emphatically ending the Canberra Raiders’ season with a 40-16 win on Thursday night. Half Drew Hutchison was the star of the show, playing arguably the best game of his career, grabbing three try assists to go with five offloads, three tackle busts, and three line break assists. Adam Keighran was another shining light, grabbing his first career hat-trick and totaling 20 points for the match.

The return of a number of players from injury and suspension comes at the right time for the Roosters as they look to keep their season alive on Saturday afternoon. Enforcers Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Victor Radley return to bolster a forward pack that also saw Angus Crichton return last time out. Sam Walker again will play from the interchange with Lachlan Lam retaining the #7 jersey.

Titans

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The Titans left their fans biting their nails right up until the last day of the regular season after many pundits before the season had them in their top eight. It came down to them needing a 12-point win over the Warriors on Sunday afternoon to progress, which proved an easy task as they notched up a 44-0 win to snatch eighth position from the Sharks. Son of a gun Jayden Campbell was everywhere – tallying two tries and assisting one to go with two offloads and six tackle busts.

Justin Holbrook makes just the one change with co-captain Kevin Proctor returning to the starting lineup which sees Sam McIntyre drop to the extended bench. Tyrone Peachey again holds out Toby Sexton (extended bench) and Ash Taylor (not in squad) for the five-eighth position. David Fifita will again find himself sitting on the pine to begin the clash despite grabbing two tries after coming from the bench last time out.

PREVIEW

With Manly Warringah defeating the Cowboys it means that the Roosters will play sudden death football and come up against a Titans team who snuck into the top eight on points differential. This one shapes as one of the most intriguing match ups of the weekend with the Roosters (still heavily depleted) facing a Titans side who very nearly weren’t featuring this week. The winner will face either the Melbourne Storm or Manly in week two of the finals, which shapes as a scary prospect either way you look at it.

The Roosters are slowly getting the band back together and are beginning to play some good footy at the right time of the season. Coach Trent Robinson has the ability to get the ‘next man up’ mentality to work at the club as just a few short weeks ago he couldn’t name a full 21 man squad due to injuries, suspensions, and retirements. The key to a victory over the Titans will be their defence. The Titans, despite keeping the Warriors scoreless last week, are known to leak a big number of points. ‘Defence wins games’ is a motto that gets thrown around a lot; it has substance here and could very well win the match for the Roosters.

The Gold Coast are trialing yet another halves combination over the past few weeks with Tyrone Peachey pairing with Jamal Fogarty as the playmakers for the Titans. Toby Sexton, Ash Taylor and Tanah Boyd have all spent time in the halves throughout the season and Justin Holbrook has decided to go with experience in giving Peachey a starting berth in a must-win clash. The key for a Titans upset victory will be unsettling the Roosters halves. The relatively inexperienced pair of Drew Hutchison and Lachlan Lam have proven that they are decent fill in halves, but try and tell me that either if not both will not feature in Trent Robinson’s halves for round one 2022. With Luke Keary to return from injury, and praise circling for Sam Walker, this finals series is an audition for a halves position next season. The Titans will need to apply pressure on these two which will result in superstar James Tedesco not getting as much quality ball as he would like.

KEY STAT

These two played out arguable one of the best clashes of the season in round 14 with the Roosters escaping with a 35-34 win despite leading 18-4 at half time. After jumping to a 30-4 lead early in the second half, the Titans almost completed mission impossible, scoring 30 unanswered points to hit the lead late in the game. A Sam Walker field goal with a minute remaining put a dagger through Titans’ fans’ hearts. If this clash is half as good as that one, football fans will be in for a treat.

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PREDICTION

The Roosters have exceeded expectations, playing without a number of senior players and still finishing fifth on the ladder. The Titans have been the opposite, leaving a lot to be desired about what they are capable of. It would be very surprising to see this match end in a blowout. The Titans have nothing to lose and with close to their strongest squad on the park they should win this in a close one and advance to week two.

Titans by four.

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