Two of Round 1’s most impressive victors are set to face-off in an exciting Round 2 match, as the New Zealand Warriors host the Gold Coast Titans at Mt. Smart Stadium. After two surprising results, it’ll be interesting to see whether these teams can maintain their form from the opening round.
The Warriors were arguably Round 1’s biggest surprise package. The team was pegged by many as a favourite for the Wooden Spoon, however, the ever-unpredictable Warriors stayed true to form and surprised us again. The Warriors forged an impressive 32-20 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Perth. The Rabbitohs wouldn’t have been picked by many as a Premiership favourite, but they’re no pushover either. They’re a team which should make the finals. But the Warriors played a brand of footy which was exciting, fast-paced and fun to watch. The new halves pairing of Blake Green and Shaun Johnson was impressive in Round 1, and could be the key to turning the Warriors’ miserable fortunes around.
The Titans were coming into the new season with plenty of uncertainty, with a number of personnel changes shifting the direction of the club. 12 minutes into their clash against the Canberra Raiders, the Titans found themselves down 18-0. It definitely looked like the Titans were in for a long season. Budding star Ash Taylor inspired an incredible comeback, however, and the Titans scraped past the Raiders 30-28. The Titans are a talented side, and with the removal of a large distraction in Jarryd Hayne, as well as a fresh start with a new coach, this Titans team could surprise a lot of people this year. Ash Taylor and Konrad Hurrell look to be the stars of this team, but Michael Gordon’s superb goal-kicking may be their best asset.
2017 - Round 14 - Warriors def. Titans 34-12
2017 - Round 5 - Warriors def. Titans 28-22
2016 - Round - Warriors def. Titans 24-14
2016 - Round - Warriors def. Titans 27-18
2015 - Round - Warriors def. Titans 36-14
The above is an ugly sight for the Titans, as the Warriors have been dominant against them in recent history. In the 22 total meetings between the sides, the Warriors have won 15 to the Titans’ seven. The Warriors have been one of the Titans’ toughest teams to beat, and that may continue this weekend.
|New Zealand Warriors||Gold Coast Titans|
|1||Roger Tuivasa-Sheck||Michael Gordon|
|2||David Fusitu'a||Anthony Don|
|3||Peta Hiku||Dale Copley|
|4||Solomone Kata||Konrad Hurrell|
|5||Ken Maumalo||Phillip Sami|
|6||Blake Green||Kane Elgey|
|7||Shaun Johnson||Ash Taylor|
|8||James Gavet||Jai Arrow|
|9||Isaac Luke||Nathan Peats|
|10||Adam Blair||Leilani Latu|
|11||Isaiah Papali'i||Kevin Proctor|
|12||Tohu Harris||Ryan James|
|13||Ligi Sao||Bryce Cartwright|
|14||Samuel Cook||Mitch Rein|
|15||Leivaha Pulu||Max King|
|16||Sam Lisone||Will Matthews|
|17||Bunty Afoa||Morgan Boyle|
|18||Jazz Tevaga||Keegan Hipgrave|
|19||Anthony Gelling||Joe Greenwood|
|20||Agnatius Paasi||Jai Whitbread|
|21||Mason Lino||AJ Brimson|
The facts that matter
The Warriors really need to win this game. It is early days, but the Titans aren’t the toughest competition they will have to face. Expectations were low for the Warriors this season, but in reality, they have one of the most talented squads in the league. The issue is, they’ve never been able to find a way to make it work. 2018 should be and needs to be different.
The Warriors have one of the best spines in the game - Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback, Green at five-eighth, Johnson at halfback and Luke at hooker. Throw in other talented names including Adam Blair Peta Hiku, and Solomone Kata, and this team should really be near the top of the ladder this year. The Titans may be strong this year, but this is a must-win for the Warriors. They need to set the tone for the season early on.
The Titans are heading in a completely new direction this season, and it will be beneficial for the franchise. For years, the club has been embroiled in financial problems, administrative issues, and more recently, circumstances where key personnel don’t get along. The Titans were a very toxic environment for a long time, and the fact that they’ve escaped that is an accomplishment on its own. Last week’s grinding win was proof that this team can overcome all sorts of adversity, and that makes them dangerous this year.
The Titans are also a squad that is far more talented than it initially seems. The team features a host of representative-caliber talent which will allow them to compete on the field this year. Coming up against a more powerful Warriors side will be difficult. The game looks to be a bit of a mismatch on paper, however; the Warriors are notoriously inconsistent. The Titans can’t allow themselves to get off to a slow start this week. Defensively, they have to be on their game in containing the Green-Johnson partnership, and offensively, they need to use their various weapons to score in bunches. They’ll need to lay the points on heavy if they have any chance of winning this match.
The Warriors are a tough team to beat at home, but making a prediction about this team is tough. Ultimately, based on what we saw last week this should be a competitive encounter, and potentially a high-scoring one.
The Warriors are my pick to take the cake in this one. They’re a team littered with talent, and that talent has the ability to consistently provide success on the field. The Warriors will win this one, but the Titans will challenge them on the scoreboard. Warriors to win 34-24.