Schich Hydro preview: Wests Tigers v Titans
This is our house
These are my people, listen, this is my town
These words, penned by renowned poet Jon Bon Jovi in 2010, should resonate with both of these teams this week.
You see, the last time the Titans came to the 'Town they left with the two competition points and on course for a finals berth on the back of a former son of Campbelltown, Jarryd Hayne, kicking the match-winning field goal in the final minute of the game and proclaiming the house as is own.
It would be a golden opportunity the Tigers would come to rue just a month later when they finished a point behind the Titans in ninth spot at the end of the regular season.
Since that game the coach has received his eviction notice, one tenant broke his lease early and two others have indicated they won’t be residents once this season is completed, leaving new landlord Ivan Cleary to look for potential tenants happy to call this fixer-upper their home.
The newest resident is former Eels prop Alex Twal, who has been included in the 21-man squad after securing an early release having signed to play with the Tigers for the next three seasons last month.
Another of those who have agreed to move to the Tigers is current Titan Chris McQueen who after a week wearing the No.6 jersey against his former club returns to the more familiar surroundings of the back row.
In differing ways both of these teams have been battered from pillar to post this year and whoever loses this one will find themselves in a finals predicament that not even the mathematicians will be able to save them from.
James Tedesco, Aaron Woods, Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Peats and Jarrod Wallace have all been named to back up 48 hours after Origin II with the Tigers having to do without the suspended Tim Grant and promoting young hooker Jacob Liddle to the starting team with Matt McIlwrick to start from the bench for the first time this season.
Because it is the theme of their season the Titans have been forced to make a number of changes to the side that led South Sydney 14-0 before losing 36-20. Anthony Don returns on the wing with Phillip Sami and John Olive both dropping back to the extended bench, Tyrone Roberts has been named at five-eighth after two weeks out with a shoulder injury, the extraction of his appendix will keep Leivaha Pulu out for at least a month while Agnatius Paasi is a chance of playing his first game since Round 4.
Why the Tigers can win: If effort counts for anything the Tigers should start strong favourites this week. Without their two best players it took the defending premiers two tries in the final six minutes to get past them last weekend; the challenge for Ivan Cleary will be rousing his young team to a similar performance after going home without any reward against the Sharks. The promotion of Liddle has the potential to cut swathes through a Titans ruck defence that has proven to be flimsy plenty of times this season while the footwork of Tui Lolohea and Tedesco could also prove a handful to a Titans team that is equal with the Tigers for conceding the most number of tries so far this season.
Why the Titans can win: The only team to have defeated both Melbourne and Cronulla so far this year, the Titans still believe they have the firepower to make a late finals charge but it has to start now. Although the roster is still missing a number of key players there is enough talent in the squad named on Tuesday to get the job done against a team sitting at the very foot of the ladder through 15 rounds. If they can’t win on Friday the Titans’ finals faith will be a fallacy.
The history: Played 17; Wests Tigers 7 Titans 10. The Titans are currently riding a three-game winning streak in this head-to-head match-up that has a history of throwing up nail-biting finishes. In addition to the 19-18 win secured by Hayne’s field goal last year these teams have played in six further games decided by three points or less, with the Tigers victorious in four of those games. The Tigers have hosted the Titans four times at Campbelltown with the ledger reading two wins apiece.
What are the odds? Wests Tigers $2.17, Titans $1.69. Punters with Sportsbet can smell a Wests Tigers upset, with nearly twice the money invested on the home side. Wests Tigers 1-12 is the most popular winning margin while David Nofoaluma is the best supported in the first try-scorer market. Latest odds at sportsbet.com.au.
Match officials: Referee: Gavin Badger. Assistant referee: Jon Stone. Touch Judges: Tim Roby and Rickey McFarlane. Review Official: Bryan Norrie. Senior RO: Bernard Sutton.
Televised: Channel Nine – Live from 7.30pm; Fox Sports – Live from 7.30pm.
NRL.com predicts: Given there is a combined nine losses on the trot for these two teams heading into this clash it’s hard to pick anyone to win with confidence. The courage for which the Titans have been so admired has been absent in losses to Manly and the Warriors and the Tigers have mixed heavy defeats with brave losses. Tedesco has the potential to win this game on his own but if Gold Coast can keep him relatively quiet they should have enough polish to leave Campbelltown as victors again. Titans by seven points.
I feel like we have a chance. It’s an important game - we need this win to get some breathing space between us and the Knights. If we don’t, the spoon will essentially come down to our match against them next week. In that situation we’re a chance of losing, but we need that one also. Need to get the Titans back for last time at C’town too! Show Hayne who’s house it really is lol.