Kicking off the start of three Saturday games the Raiders take on the Titans with both sides desperately seeking the two points. Both sides have experienced up and down starts and neither has given viewers a clear idea of their potential this season.
The Raiders have sparked life into their season with three wins from four to climb to 11th on the ladder, one win outside the top 8. Ricky Stuart has tinkered with his side however he seems to have now settled with Papalii, Sezer and Austin all starting the last two weeks in a row and finally showing form reminiscent of 2016.
The Gold Coast Titans have lost their last three in a row and have dropped below a Raiders side they beat in Round 1, overturning an 18-0 deficit. Kane Elgey was dropped last week and Bryce Cartwright the man to fill the void has been under siege this season, however, he was part of a strong teams performance, cruelled by a late field goal, as they nearly snatched defeat at the death. Brennan has instilled a fighting spirit within his side however without a serious partner for Taylor the Titans have struggled.
Round 1, 2018: Gold Coast Titans def. Canberra Raiders 30-28 at Cbus Super Stadium
Round 6, 2017: Canberra Raiders def. Gold Coast Titans 42-16 at Cbus Super Stadium
Round 16, 2016: Canberra Raiders def. Gold Coast Titans 30-22 at Cbus Super Stadium
Round 4, 2016: Gold Coast Titans def. Canberra Raiders 24-20 at GIO Stadium
Round 24, 2015: Gold Coast Titans def. Canberra Raiders 28-12 at Cbus Super Stadium
Always a high-scoring affair when these two meet, Gold Coast with three wins to the Raiders two from their head to head last five games. The Raiders will be glad to see this one played at home in Canberra with most of these clashes of late played in the Gold Coast and the cold weather may factor into this one.
|Canberra Raiders||Gold Coast Titans|
|1||Jack Wighton||Michael Gordon|
|2||Nick Cotric||Anthony Don|
|3||Jarrod Croker||Brendan Elliot|
|4||Joseph Leilua||Konrad Hurrell|
|5||Jordan Rapana||Phillip Sami|
|6||Blake Austin||Bryce Cartwright|
|7||Aidan Sezer||Ashley Taylor|
|8||Iosia Soliola||Jarrod Wallace|
|9||Siliva Havili||Mitch Rein|
|10||Junior Paulo||Ryan James|
|11||Joseph Tapine||Kevin Proctor|
|12||Elliott Whitehead||Will Matthews|
|13||Josh Papalii||Jai Arrow|
|14||Ata Hingano||Max King|
|15||Shannon Boyd||Jack Stockwell|
|16||Luke Bateman||Keegan Hipgrave|
|17||Dunamis Lui||Ryan Simpkins|
|18||Liam Knight||Leilani Latu|
|19||Michael Oldfield||Moeaki Fotuaika|
|20||Brad Abbey||Brenko Lee|
|21||Jack Murchie||Kane Elgey|
The facts that matter
Their defence the last week and the last month has stepped up in tandem with their outside backs running game. Against the Cowboys last week the Raiders defended set after set on their line and then surged upfield with Rapana, Leilua, Croker, Wighton and Cotric exposing the Cowboys forward pack, dashing from dummy half. Should they continue this expect the Titans to be on the back foot and without a gluttony of players that can wrestle back the momentum, they will be up against it.
At the beginning of the season, the Raiders had too many individuals trying to win the match for them. Over recent weeks Sezer has taken control of the side, which has shifted the mindset of the players to stick to their role to gel under the game-plan. It has reaped the intended rewards and they now possess an instructor in Sezer in which to build their game around.
Gold Coast Titans
Ashley Taylor has had most probably his most quiet start to a season and needs to stand up with a rookie half beside him. Cartwright needs Taylor to direct the side for Cartwright to play off the cuff as he knows so well how to do. Resigned to the club until 2021 Taylor needs to command the respect of his peers and galvanise a side with the potential to sneak into the top 8.
The emergence of Jai Arrow has seen Ryan James and Kevin Proctor take somewhat of a backseat this season, neither producing the form they're capable of. If the Titans forward pack can aim up their size and ability should trouble and slow down a few big boppers from the Canberra side.
Neither side has put together a solid 80 minutes performance, however, provided both do on Saturday I see the Raiders coming away with the victory. This game could make or break either sides finals destiny and so expect two fired up outfits.
The Raiders defence last week albeit against a stagnant Cowboys attack was staunch and unrelenting, replicate that this weekend and they will come away with the two points, Raiders by 8.