Gold Coast Titans vs Brisbane Broncos: Lineups, preview and prediction

Cbus Super Stadium, Sunday 8th of July, 4:10pm AEST

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Overview

The minimised round 17 of the NRL comes to a close with the Gold Coast Titans hosting the Brisbane Broncos at Cbus Super Stadium. The game shapes as one that’s deceptively crucial to the top eight race, with the Wests Tigers and Canberra Raiders praying that the Titans can shorten the gap between 9th, 10th and 11th and the 8th placed Broncos. Both sides will be without a host of their best players, with the effects of State of Origin being felt across the round.

For the Titans, any hope at a late-season surge to the finals rides on this game. They were outstanding last start, dismantling a fired up Tigers team in front of a packed Leichhardt crowd, however, they will need to build on that effort to shut down the Broncos. They’re going to be without Jarrod Wallace and Jai Arrow in what is a huge loss to the Titans forward pack. The likes of Jack Stockwell and Keegan Hipgrave will be under the pump to provide the same impact that the Origin representatives do.

The Broncos outside backs have lost a huge amount of strike power with James Roberts and Corey Oates both on Origin duty, which will put even greater pressure on the halves pairing of Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford to create points, both of which have struggled with consistency in 2018. Rookie hooker Jake Turpin will debut at hooker for the Broncos, with Andrew McCullough absent on Origin duty. Josh McGuire rounds out the remaining Origin representatives for the Broncos, Joe Ofahengaue moving into starting lock.

Recent meetings

2018 – Rd 4 – Gold Coast Titans 26 def. Brisbane Broncos 14 at Suncorp Stadium

2017 – Rd 21 – Brisbane Broncos 54 def. Gold Coast Titans 0 at Cbus Super Stadium

2017 – Rd 7 – Brisbane Broncos 24 def. Gold Coast Titans 22 at Suncorp Stadium

2016 – Elimination Final 1 – Brisbane Broncos 44 def. Gold Coast Titans 28 at Suncorp Stadium

2016 – Rd 5 – Brisbane Broncos 24 def. Gold Coast Titans 16 at Cbus Super Stadium

The Broncos have a dominant history over the Titans and have claimed four of the last five meetings, including a 54 point smashing the last time they visited Cbus Super Stadium. However, in the most recent clash between the two it was the Titans who were dominant, running 26-14 winners over the Broncos.

Selected teams

Gold Coast TitansBrisbane Broncos
1Michael GordonDarius Boyd (c)
2Anthony DonJonus Pearson
3Dale CopleyTom Opacic
4Brenko LeeJordan Kahu
5Phillip SamiJamayne Isaako
6Alexander BrimsonAnthony Milford
7Ashley TaylorKodi Nikorima
8Jack StockwellMatthew Lodge
9Nathan PeatsJake Turpin
10Ryan James (c)Sam Thaiday
11Kevin ProctorAlex Glenn
12Will MatthewsJayden Su’A
13Keegan HipgraveJoe Ofahengaue
Interchange
14Mitch ReinPatrick Mago
15Morgan BoyleTevita Pangai Junior
16Konrad HurrellKorbin Sims
17Moeaki FotuaikaKotoni Staggs
Reserves
18Leilani LatuPatrick Corrigan
19Kane ElgeyDavid Fifita
20Ryan SimpkinsSam Tagataese
21Brendan ElliotSam Scarlett

Facts that matter

Gold Coast Titans

This game is simply a must win for the Titans. Their final hopes of a top-eight birth are on the line in this match. A win puts them within just two wins of the 8th placed Broncos whereas a loss is pretty much the final nail in the Titans season, seeing them fall two points behind the Tigers and (should they defeat the Bulldogs) the Raiders. Therefore, the Titans have plenty to play for, the least of which is not revenge for the 54 point drubbing they received at home from the Broncos late last year.

The Titans have been impressive in recent weeks, despite being one of the competition’s worst defensive teams they have conceded no more than 12 points in their last couple of matches. There will be huge pressure on Jack Stockwell, Will Matthews and Keegan Hipgrave who have all be asked to help fill the hole left by Wallace and Arrow being unavailable. Whether these replacement forwards can hold up in the middle against a young but boisterous Broncos forward pack will go a long way to determining the result. Garth Brennan will have his fingers crossed that Boyd Cordner is fit to play for New South Wales, which would allow captain Ryan James to take his place for his club side.

The Titans must focus on addressing their defense around players like Milford and Nikorima if they are to be victorious. The Titans have struggled to contain the electric men in the competition all year and as a result have conceded the highest number of long-range tries. They conceded just two tries against the Tigers last weekend, but both of those tries started in the Tigers half. It’s a strange but worrying trend and one Brennan’s men are going to have to focus on.

Brisbane Broncos

The Broncos boast a significant advantage in the head-to-head between these two sides, winning 18 of the 24 clashes between the two. The Broncos will be looking to atone for their loss to the Titans earlier in the year and will have aspirations of being as dominant as they were the last time they visited Cbus Super Stadium.

It was very much a game of two halves for the Broncos last weekend, down 16-0 at halftime Brisbane went on to beat the Raiders 26-22. Beating the Titans could very much come down to which Broncos team turns up. Should Brisbane perform like they did in the first half against Canberra it unlikely the Gold Coast would allow them to run it down the way the Raiders did. If they perform as they did in the second half, the Titans could be in for a tough game.

Their comeback against the Raiders was hugely inspired by million-dollar-man Anthony Milford. Milford has struggled for form at times this season but showed what he is capable of against the Raiders. With Roberts and Oates missing from the backline, more pressure will be on Milford to be the one that creates scoring opportunities. If Milford fires, often the Broncos do too, and so a Brisbane win could very much be in the Samoan five-eighth’s hands.

Prediction

There is certainly no love lost between these two sides, with a series of intense, and embarrassing, clashes, doubled with the player trading between the two clubs and the sly Broncos play to sign Ash Taylor and Ryan James, we have ourselves a genuine rivalry. Unfortunately, the match is dominated with State of Origin omissions, and you’d have to say the Titans have covered their losses better than Brisbane. With everything to lose and a top-eight chance to win, the Titans will just want it more than the Broncos. It’ll be very close, but the Gold Coast in a tight one. Titans by 2.

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