PREVIEW: Melbourne Storm vs Gold Coast Titans

Both the Melbourne Storm and Gold Coast Titans started their premiership campaigns with a bang,by earning victories in their respective round 1 clashes. The Titans travel to Melbourne with just one win at AAMI park since it’s inception, while the Storm have made their home ground a fortress of sorts, winning 72% of their 76 games at AAMI. Both teams were able to scrape through Round 1 without any injury concerns, and the Titans will be boosted by the return of their 2015 Player of the Year, prop Luke Douglas, who has been named on an extended bench and will likely come into the side in the place of either Leivaha Pulu or Eddy Pettybourne, who struggled with a corked leg against the Knights.

Despite playing in heavy rain, the Titans were very strong against the Knights, piling on 30 points and only conceding 12. Their forward pack laid the platform with an outstanding overall performance, as Agnatius Paasi, Zeb Taia and Greg Bird all earned a place in the NothingButLeague team of the week for Round 1. Their newly formed halves pairing of Ash Taylor and Tyrone Roberts also looked comfortable leading the team around with the assistance of Bird taking the pressure off them, however the Titans overall finesse will be tested against a much stronger Storm outfit.

The Storm got off to a shaky start to 2016 against the Dragons, as St George ran out to a 10-0 lead after just 15 minutes. Melbourne were able to claw their way back, with Billy Slater showing tremendous skill in his return game to lay on consecutive tries for the lightning quick Marika Koroibete. The Storm relied on penalty goals to put them in the lead, before Jesse Bromwich showed why he’s arguably the best prop in the game by fighting through 4 defenders to offload the ball to his brother Kenny for the game winning try. Melbourne will need to improve on their 9 errors from the game if they are to execute effectively against the Titans.

Key Battle
The Storm have the clear upper hand in key positions such as the spine and throughout the back line, ther1efore it is vital for the Titans pack to once again rise to the challenge against the Storms big men, who boast kiwi rep stars Bromwich and Kevin Proctor. The likes of Paasi, Bird, and Chris McQueen need to dominate their opposite numbers if the Titans are to have any hope of claiming victory against the Storm’s big three.

The Titans will try valiantly to continue their strong start to the season, however the Storm boast a much stronger line up, and the home advantage should be enough to earn them a victory.

Storm by 12

Titans: 1 David Mead 2 Anthony Don 3 Josh Hoffman 4 Nathan Davis 5 John Olive 6 Tyrone Roberts 7 Ashley Taylor 8 David Shillington 9 Nathan Friend 10 Agnatius Paasi 11 John Zebelon Taia 12 Chris McQueen 13 Greg Bird Interchange: 14 Eddy Pettybourne 15 Ryan James 16 Leivaha Pulu 17 Daniel Mortimer 18 Luke Douglas 19 William Zillman

Storm: 1 Billy Slater 2 Young Tonumaipea 3 William Chambers 4 Cameron Munster 5 Marika Koroibete 6 Blake Green 7 Cooper Cronk 8 Jesse Bromwich 9 Cameron Smith 10 Jordan McLean 11 Kevin Proctor 12 Tohu Harris 13 Dale Finucane Interchange: 14 Kenny Bromwich 15 Tim Glasby 16 Felise Kaufusi 17 Christian Welch

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