The Manly Sea Eagles face off against the Gold Coast Titans at Lottoland first up on Friday night in a match that will hold some bearing on the fight for the wooden spoon.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Manly Sea Eagles
After their disappointing loss against Penrith, they have since bounced back with two victories. The Manly Sea Eagles were too good for the Canterbury Bulldogs the previous week. Their victory before the Bulldogs game came against the Cronulla Sharks in golden point.
Gold Coast Titans
The Gold Coast Titans fortunes have been the opposite from their opponents. After an impressive victory over the Warriors, they have slumped to back-to-back defeats. The first loss came against the resurgent Parramatta Eels, while last week-despite leading for most of the game, were beaten by Penrith in golden point.
Manly Sea Eagles
Manly have only made one change to their squad. Taniela Paseka drops back to the reserves with Lloyd Perrett taking his place on the bench.
Gold Coast Titans
Brenko Lee, a late scratching from the Penrith game, has been named to return from injury, with Brandon Elliot dropping back to the reserves. Michael Gordon remains sidelined, keeping AJ Brimson at fullback and Kane Elgey at five-eighth.
These two teams last met in round five in Central Queensland. The Titans ended up victorious that day 32-30 with Bryce Cartwright proving particular menacing on that day. There will be no Cartwright this time when they line up, but Kane Elgey will be there to take on his future teammates. His partnership with Ash Taylor was a big factor for their last victory against the Sea Eagles and they will need to prove just as effective if they are any chance of taking the two competition points. And the way they can inject youngster AJ Brimson into the match will be a deciding factor. His rookie year has been impressive, and his tough lines and quick feet will surely test out the middle forwards of the Sea Eagles.
Tom Trbojevic has gone to another level since returning from his debut Origin series. His impact will be telling on this match. The Sea Eagles play their best football when they aim to create room at wide for Trbojevic to take advantage of. If he gets into a mood, and the Titans can’t stop him in defence, then it could be a long night for him. The impetus to create this room out wide will fall upon Martin Taupau, whose strong runs and smart offloads help get Manly on the front foot.
Both teams have conceded over 24 points a game on average this season. This match has the potential to be a high scoring one if neither side turn up with the right attitude in defence.
Manly Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Moses Suli 4. Brian Kelly 5. Brad Parker 6. Dylan Walker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Manase Fainu 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Shaun Lane 13. Jake Trbojevic
Interchange: 14. Trent Hodkinson 15. Kelepi Tanginoa 16. Frank Winterstein 17. Lloyd Perrett
Gold Coast Titans: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Anthony Donn 3. Konrad Hurrell 4. Brenko Lee 5. Phillip Sami 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Jai Arrow
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 17th August
Kick-off: 6 pm
WHO WILL WIN?
This might be the last chance the Titans have of winning this season. They will be disappointed and desperate to make amends for last week but they face a difficult task of trying to overcome Manly at home. Manly will be looking to take this victory to avoid the prospect of winning their first ever wooden spoon. This one will be close. Manly by 2.