The 11th placed Gold Coast Titans travel to Leichhardt Oval on to take on the 10th placed Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon, in what shapes as an important clash for both sides. Both teams are still a mathematical chance at a top 8 birth, and will be looking at this game as an opportunity to build momentum heading into the final stretch of the season.
The Tigers come into this match on the back of three straight losses, the most recent a 48 point smashing at the hands of the Canberra Raiders, so will be desperate to arrest a worrying trend. The major talking point leading into this game for the Tigers is that it'll be the first time their mid-season recruits take the field. Both Moses Mbye (Bulldogs) and Robbie Farah (Rabbitohs) have made the switch and are named to start for the joint venture. If the two can spark the Tigers attack, they'll have reason to feel confident, the Tigers have not scored over 16 points in five weeks so are expecting an injection of creativity.
The Titans have been an inconsistent team so far throughout 2018, they've shown their absolute best and their very worst. Their last start win over the Bulldogs could prove a potential catapult to get their season back on track and push for the top 8. Queensland representatives Jarrod Wallace and Jai Arrow are expected to line up for the Coast. Currently, three wins outside the top 8, the Titans need to take the opportunity to take two points off the team just above them on the ladder or risk their season coming to a premature end.
2017 - Rd 21 - Wests Tigers 26 def. Gold Coast Titans 4 at Cbus Super Stadium
2017 - Rd 16 - Gold Coast Titans 26 def. Wests Tigers 14 at Campbelltown Stadium
2016 - Rd 23 - Gold Coast Titans 19 def. Wests Tigers 18 at Campbelltown Stadium
2016 - Rd 3 - Gold Coast Titans 30 def. Wests Tigers 18 at Cbus Super Stadium
2015 - Rd 13 - Gold Coast Titans 27 def. Wests Tigers 20 at Leichhardt Oval
It's been all Titans in the recent history between these two sides, the Gold Coast winning four of the past five clashes. However, the Tigers one win was the most recent clash between the two, in round 21 last season. Head to head the Titans boast the advantage, claiming 11 of the 19 matches.
|||Wests Tigers||Gold Coast Titans|
|1||Moses Mbye ||Michael Gordon|
|2||Malakai Watene-Zelezniak||Anthony Don|
|3||Esan Marsters||Dale Copley|
|4||Kevin Naiqama||Brenko Lee|
|5||Corey Thompson||Phillip Sami|
|6||Josh Reynolds||Alexander Brimson|
|7||Luke Brooks||Ashley Taylor|
|8||Russell Packer||Jarrod Wallace|
|9||Robbie Farah||Nathan Peats|
|10||Ben Matulino||Ryan James (c)|
|11||Chris Lawrence||Kevin Proctor|
|12||Josh Aloiai||Keegan Hipgrave|
|13||Elijah Taylor||Jai Arrow|
|14||Alex Twal||Mitch Rein|
|15||Sauaso Sue||Will Matthews|
|16||Michael Chee-Kam||Moeaki Fotuaika|
|17||Matthew Eisenhuth||Jack Stockwell|
|18||Tyson Gamble||Morgan Boyle|
|19||Robbie Rochow||Konrad Hurrell|
|20||Tim Grant||Kane Elgey|
|21||Chris McQueen||Bryce Cartwright|
The facts that matter
It's no secret the Tigers have really struggled to score points this season, the only side to score fewer points than them this season is the struggling Parramatta Eels and they're only scored higher than 20 points in a game three times all season. Ivan Cleary has noticed the issue and sought to add some attacking creativity with the signings of Mbye and Farah. Interestingly, in the last two rounds both Mbye and Farah have both versed the Titans with their old clubs, even more interesting is that both men were standouts against the Gold Coast in those games. This provides the club with some insider knowledge of how the Titans play and how to break down their opposition, however also means that the Titans have had practise defending the new recruits, meaning Mbye and Farah will have to lift to make an impact.
The Tigers forward pack will also need to lift against an underrated Titans pack. The likes of Wallace, Arrow, Ryan James and Kevin Proctor all lead the way for this Titans team, and so the leaders in the Tigers pack will need to stand up. Should the Tigers be dominated in the middle, the recruits, Mbye and Farah, as well as Luke Brooks will all struggle to put points on. Attack is the weakness in the Tigers team and rectifying it starts in the middle.
Gold Coast Titans
Whilst they were impressive against the Bulldogs, it must be said that the Bulldogs performed poorly, however, the Titans need to use the win to build some momentum moving forward. They're three wins outside the top 8 and if they can be victorious against the Tigers, they can sleep soundly knowing not only are they edging closer to the top 8, but that they've halted another top 8 contender from getting away from them. The inclusions of Wallace and Arrow, as well as enforcer Ryan James, demonstrates that the Gold Coast, at least on paper, have a forward pack capable of dominating the Tigers. If they can get a roll on the Titans have shown they're more than capable of laying points on, halfback Ash Taylor, in fact, leads the competition for try-assists.
The Titans are almost the exact opposite to the Tigers, the Titans are more than capable of working their way upfield and scoring points, however, the weakness for the Titans is their defense. They're ranked third for points conceded this year and concede an average of 25 points per game. The Titans must address their marker defense and halting the oppositions offloads or the likes of Mbye, Farah and Brooks will carve them up the middle.
The Tigers are a gritty team that grinds out wins on the back of defense, and while Mbye and Farah may, in time, prove to be the attacking pieces they're missing, they remain unknowns. The Titans, on the other hand, can score points and have the forward pack to dominate the middle. If the Gold Coast can get past the magic number of 20, they'll have too many points for the Tigers to run them down. Titans by 6.
Who takes the take when the Tigers host the Titans at Leichhardt Oval? Let us know in the comments and poll below.