Round 26 Match Previews

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Round 26 Match Previews

Post by smeghead » Wed 01 Sep, 2010 1:50 pm

Titans v Wests Tigers
Skilled Park
Friday 7.35pm

If you think these two sides enter this match content, knowing they’ll be around in the finals, then you are seriously underestimating their desires and the mammoth importance of this result.

For the home-side Titans this match is a must-win if they want to host a home final – a huge advantage in the opening week of the post-season.

For the Wests Tigers, a spot in the top two is on the line, the only place on the ladder which guarantees a second bite of the cherry should you lose your first final.

And besides this, both sides want to come into the finals with a winning feeling, not the drop in confidence that comes with a loss.

It all adds up to what should be a sell-out crowd, a massive atmosphere and one hell of a contest. Essentially, it’s finals time come early. Imagine the psychological advantage for the side that wins if they meet again in September.

The Titans come into the match in fourth spot on the ladder and can actually steal second spot themselves if they win by 10 or more points and the Panthers lose to the Sharks.

While the Sharks have been much tougher in recent weeks the reality is a win should be the Titans’ first goal as it would guarantee a top-four berth, then the 10-point margin should be next on the list as it would see them leapfrog the Tigers to at least third.

After falling to the Sharks last weekend, snapping a five-game winning run, the side has just the one change.

Anthony Laffranchi returns to the second row, which moves Greg Bird back to the bench and Sam Tagataese out of the side.

The Wests Tigers put themselves in the box seat to take second by beating Melbourne last week. Believe it or not, since entering the league as a joint venture in 2000, the Tigers have only been second on the ladder for 12 total weeks!

A win here makes second a certainty for the side; however, a loss by 10 or more and a Penrith win drops the side to fourth and into the Friday night final from which the loser was eliminated in Week One last season. If they lose by less than 10 they will still hold on to second or at worst be third.

Fullback Wade McKinnon is out injured, giving Mitch Brown a start at the back, while Chris Lawrence’s broken jaw means he’ll be replaced by Geoff Daniela in the centres. John Skandalis is also out of the side with the new guys on the bench being Willie Mataka and Daniel Fitzhenry.

Watch out Titans: This match shapes as a big one for Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah. The Tigers have scored 10 tries from dummy-half this season, which is equal first in the league, and the Titans have conceded nine from the same area, which ranks them third last.

In terms of dummy-half line-breaks the Wests Tigers have nine and the Titans have let 11 through the gates, ranking them second last.

Farah has six dummy-half line-breaks and will be out to terrorise the Gold Coast defence. The Titans’ markers need to be switched on at all times.

Watch out Wests Tigers: The Gold Coast are the best side in the NRL at forcing line drop-outs but it is two types of their attacking kicks in this game that could bring points rather than pressure.

The Wests Tigers are the worst side in the NRL at defusing chip kicks; with Scott Prince, the Titans have an expert at the practice. The Tigers successfully defuse just 56 per cent of chip kicks, giving Prince and co. a massive green light to use it.

If chip kicks are on the menu, so too will be cross-field bombs. The Wests Tigers defuse just 47 per cent of cross-field kicks and with a new-look backline, this number could get even worse.

Where it will be won: The battle of the back row is the pivotal one here. Of course the match-up of key playmakers like Scott Prince and Benji Marshall will be massive also, but the back row of both teams brings plenty of grunt to the contest.

For the Wests Tigers it is Chris Heighington, Gareth Ellis and this week Simon Dwyer as Liam Fulton is still injured.

Heighington is averaging 112 metres and 31 tackles a match, has five line-breaks, five line-break assists, three try assists, four tries, 93 tackle-breaks and 26 offloads. Ellis runs 106 metres and makes more than 30 tackles a game, has five line-breaks, three line-break assists, three try assists, four tries, 46 tackle-breaks and 10 offloads.

Dwyer’s involvement is much less having played most of his games from the bench but when starting last week against Melbourne he punched out 109 metres and added 30 tackles.

For the home side Titans, the back row consists of Mark Minichiello, Anthony Laffranchi and Ashley Harrison, with Greg Bird ready to come from the bench. Harrison is making 95 metres and adding 35 tackles a match plus he has three line-breaks, a line-break assist, a try assists and three tries. Laffranchi averages 105 metres and 33 tackles and has added nine line-breaks, seven tries, 45 tackle-breaks and 30 offloads. Minichiello runs 102 metres and makes 20 tackles each week and has 12 line-breaks, three line-break assists, nine tries, 94 tackle-breaks and 16 offloads.

The history: Played 6; Titans 3, Wests Tigers 3. The Tigers got home by a single point earlier this year at Campbelltown to square the ledger against the Titans. There have been two matches prior at Skilled Park, with both sides taking a win apiece. The average winning margin between the clubs is just over eight points.

Conclusion: A few injuries to the Wests Tigers’ line-up and the home ground advantage probably gives the Titans the edge here as they look to lock up a top-four berth and the home semi that goes with it.

The result is just that tad more important to the home side; as such you could probably lean their way with confidence.

But the Wests Tigers are certainly in the contest and can’t be discounted. It should be a close one – a real cracker.

Match officials: Referees – Tony Archer & Gavin Badger; Sideline Officials – Paul Holland & Adam Devcich; Video Ref – Steve Clark.

Televised: Channel Nine – Live 7.30pm (NSW), delayed 9.30pm (Qld & ACT); Fox Sports – Delayed 11.30pm.
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Post by Cultured Bogan » Wed 01 Sep, 2010 2:07 pm

I hope Badger is the senior official.
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Post by willow » Wed 01 Sep, 2010 2:43 pm

If Luke Bailey gets scratched from the Titans lineup I will feel a bit more confident, but for now I think the Titans deserve to be favorites. A lot is going to come down to how well the Tigers continue to tackle, particularly on Laffranchi and Minichello who are both very good on the edges.

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Post by tsjonathan » Wed 01 Sep, 2010 3:45 pm

If only Benji kicked just a few more goals... *sigh*

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Post by Tigerdave » Wed 01 Sep, 2010 6:46 pm

Based on those dummy half stats, Robbie could have a field day, but then so could Prince with the chip kicks.


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Post by westTAHger » Wed 01 Sep, 2010 6:52 pm

wests-tigers are the under dogs in this one.
maybe the titans will think they only have to run on, kick off, complete a set of six to win the game.
going to be a good battle.
field goal may decide this one.
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Post by smeghead » Wed 01 Sep, 2010 8:14 pm

Daley

Gold Coast Titans v Wests Tigers, Skilled Park, Friday 7.35pm (EST)
The Tigers have won three straight but will be hurt by a couple of key injuries striking at the wrong time of year. Playing the Titans on the Gold Coast is no easy task and that is sure to test a Tigers’ outfit in good form. The Titans were caught out against the Sharks last week, but I think that might come back to a tough return trip to Sydney following a short turnaround. This will be a tight game, but I feel the Titans have enough points in them to win at home. When you can bring two internationals like Brad Myers and Greg Bird off your bench you’re travelling pretty well and I think the Titans are good enough to get the job done.
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Post by NJLM78 » Wed 01 Sep, 2010 8:20 pm

tsjonathan wrote:If only Benji kicked just a few more goals... *sigh*
Or someone tackled Wesser in the 90th minute of the Souths game and then we would have 35 comp points.

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Post by Tiger Watto » Thu 02 Sep, 2010 3:18 pm

VENUE & TIME: Skilled Park, Friday, September 3, 7.30pm (AEST)
COVERAGE: Channel 9
HEAD TO HEAD Played 6, Titans 3, Tigers 3
LAST TIME: Tigers 15 – Titans 14 at Campbelltown Stadium, Round 18, 2010

WALKING WOUNDED: The Titans have received a boost with former Test forward Anthony Laffranchi returning from a shoulder injury, but veteran full-back Preston Campbell remains sidelined with hamstring troubles. Prop Luke Bailey has been named to play despite undergoing thumb surgery at the start of the week. The Tigers have their own injury concerns, losing centre Chris Lawrence (broken jaw), full-back Wade McKinnon (hamstring) and forward John Skandalis (buttock) after Sunday's win over Melbourne. Mitch Brown (full-back), Geoff Daniela (centres) and Willie Mataka (bench) move in to fill the gaps. Second-rower Gareth Ellis will play despite picking up a cork last week, but forwards Liam Fulton (calf) and Bryce Gibbs (knee) are looking at week-one of the finals for a return.

FORM: The Titans were hoping to achieve a sixth-straight win against the Sharks at Toyota Stadium last Saturday evening, but it quickly became apparent that a positive result was not going to fall their way. With a couple of Cronulla's finest retiring, the Titans had to withstand a spirited and emotion-charged opposition that refused to relent for the majority of 80 minutes. Maybe it was the loss the Titans had to have, but it is one that could also jeopardise their top-four chances if they happen to lose again this week. The Tigers booked themselves a home final last Sunday with a razzle-dazzle 26-14 victory over the Storm in front of over 20,000 fans at Leichhardt Oval. It was their third-straight win and one that has them sitting pretty in second position on the ladder.

WHO'S HOT: For the Titans, young utility player Bodene Thompson continues to look the goods and it won't be long before he nails down a permanent spot in the starting line-up. The big unit scored two tries last week and showed great ball handling skills along the way. Speaking of attacking skills, anyone leaving Leichhardt Oval last Sunday would have felt privileged, seeing Benji Marshall back to his best. The flamboyant Tigers' pivot scored three tries, including that stunning first-half effort he started and finished in the left corner.

WE THINK: The Tigers' injury woes will prevent them from making a real impact on this game against a Titans side still extremely wary of just what a loss could do their final finishing position in the top-eight. There is little doubt the Titans were upstaged by a far more enthusiastic opponent last week and coach John Cartwright will be drilling the importance of staying focused in the lead-up to this one in order for the club to secure a prized home final. The return of Laffranchi in the pack gives the Titans a slight advantage in the forwards and they have a stronger overall bench which could prove vital in this potentially mouth-watering contest. Titans by 4.

TEAMS
Gold Coast Titans:
William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Steve Michaels, Clinton Toopi, Jordan Atkins, Mat Rogers, Scott Prince [c], Luke Bailey, Nathan Friend, Matthew White, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Michael Henderson, Brad Meyers, Greg Bird, Bodene Thompson.

Wests Tigers:
Mitch Brown, Lote Tuqiri, Blake Ayshford, Geoff Daniela, Beau Ryan, Benji Marshall, Robert Lui, Todd Payten, Robbie Farah [c], Keith Galloway, Simon Dwyer, Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington. Interchange: Andrew Fifita, Willie Mataka, Mark Flanagan, Daniel Fitzhenry.

Referees: Tony Archer, Gavin Badger
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Post by willow » Thu 02 Sep, 2010 8:50 pm

Gold Coast Titans v Wests Tigers
Greg Prichard
September 3, 2010

Friday, Skilled Park, 7.35pm
Referees: Tony Archer, Gavin Badger
Head to head: Titans 3, Tigers 3
Last clash: Tigers 15 bt Titans 14 at Campbelltown (Round 18 2010)
TAB SportsBet: Titans $1.55, Tigers $2.40
FootyTab: Tigers +3.5

This is a critical battle in terms of finals positioning. The Tigers are in second place, on 34 points, and the Titans fourth, on 32. The Tigers have a points for-and-against differential of plus-37, so even if they go down they can still run second as long as they don't lose by enough for the Titans (plus-19) to sneak past them and the Panthers lose to the Sharks. It will be interesting to see how the Tigers play it, since they are on the road and have a few missing because of injury. Will they look to be expansive, or try to keep things tight and grind out a win?

The Titans had won five in a row before they fell to the Sharks last weekend. It's bad enough as it is to lose to the Sharks, but to be well beaten, 30-16, is embarrassing. No other team has won more than five straight this year, to perhaps that is just the going rate and the Titans were due for a loss. But they need to lift here, to avoid going into the finals with their confidence dented by losses in the last two rounds. The Tigers can't finish lower than fourth, but the Titans could drop out of the top four with a loss.

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Post by senexx » Fri 03 Sep, 2010 1:11 pm

I was more confident than usual, even with all the injuries until I read Archer (the worst ref) was one of the refs refereeing the game.
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