Preview: Gold Coast Titans vs Newcastle Knights

After earning just their second win of the season last week, the Titans are desperate to get a winning streak started. However, in their way stands a courageous Knights side, who have already stood up to the Titans earlier this season and left with the win.

Last Time Out
After 8 weeks cursed by injuries, the Titans were finally able to get their strongest side on the park last week, and the improvement was evident immediately as they disposed of the in-form Sharks. The inclusion of stars Jarryd Hayne, Konrad Hurrell and Kevin Proctor added plenty of punch to the Titans attack, with the three combining several times to create havoc on the right edge. Hayne’s man of the match performance showed how dangerous he can be when he buys into the Titans game plan, as he produced several classy plays to put his team mates into space. Despite finally getting a win, the Titans were still struck by the injury curse, with Dale Copley, Chris Grevsmuhl and Karl Lawton being ruled out of the clash with the Knights.

The Knights started strongly against a Cowboys side that was missing Jonathan Thurston, heading into the halftime break with a 12-10 lead. However, 2018 recruit Kalyn Ponga gave his future side a first-hand experience of what they had to look forward to, as the young gun ran in for his second try in the 62nd minute to break the Knights spirit. The Knights struggled to execute for points in the second half, as back rower Sione Mata’utia adjusted to the new role of halfback in the place of the dropped Trent Hodkinson. Newcastle’s ill-discipline also proved costly, as they gave away 10 penalties and missed 30 tackles.

Key Battle
Since playing his first game of the season two weeks ago against the Broncos, Nathan Peats has made a huge difference to the Titans side, particularly in defence. The live-wire hooker has brought direction and spark to the Titans line-speed, and his 57 tackles against the Sharks coincided with the Titans only conceding 12 points against the reigning premiers. His performances have caught the eyes of NSW selectors, and he is sure to deliver another strong audition for a spot in the side.

Peat’s comes up against a young hooker in Danny Levi who brings plenty of spark to the Knights line up. In a 70-minute effort last week, Levi racked up an impressive 45 tackles against a strong Cowboys pack. Levi will be aware of Peat’s impact around the ruck, and the aggressive hooker will need to work with his forwards to tighten the defence and control the Titans momentum through the middle of the field.

The Knights have put in plenty of fight this season, and have managed to keep teams on their feet in most games. The Titans will be wary of their opponents after their earlier clash this season, and there should be no signs of complacency from the Gold Coast despite having most of their stars on deck. With a win so vital in order to build momentum and begin a climb up the ladder, the Titans should be strong enough to win this one comfortably.

Titans: 1 Jarryd Hayne 2 Anthony Don 3 Dan Sarginson 4 Konrad Hurrell 5 Tyronne Roberts-Davis 6 Tyrone Roberts 7 Ashley Taylor 8 Jarrod Wallace 9 Nathan Peats 10 Ryan James (c) 11 Chris McQueen 12 Kevin Proctor (c) 13 Ryan Simpkins Interchange 14 Kane Elgey 15 Joe Greenwood 16 Paterika Vaivai 17 Leivaha Pulu 18 Morgan Boyle 19 Pat Politoni 20 Nathaniel Peteru 21 Alex Brimson

Knights: 1 Brendan Elliot 2 Ken Sio 3 Dane Gagai 4 Peter Mata’utia 5 Nathan Ross 6 Brock Lamb 7 Jaelen Feeney 8 Daniel Saifiti 9 Danny Levi 10 Josh Starling 11 Sione Mata’utia (c) 12 Sam Stone 13 Luke Yates Interchange 14 Anthony Tupou 15 Joe Wardle 16 Jack Stockwell 17 Jacob Saifiti 18 Pauli Pauli 19 Tyler Randell 20 Josh King 21 Lachlan Fitzgibbon

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