Titans v Wests Tigers Preview

Titans v Wests Tigers Preview
NRL.com Wed, 26 Aug 2009 7:15

Titans v Wests Tigers
Skilled Park
Saturday 5.30pm

The Wests Tigers are battered and bruised but still coming back for more as the door is still ajar for a finals berth – but it could very well close shut if they can’t come up with the goods on the holiday strip.

The record-breaking and history-making Titans (most wins in a season for the new franchise and first finals berth for new team) are already in a party mood; not the type of party where you don’t care, but more the type of party mood that brings confidence and flair to your football.

While their spot in the top four cannot be taken away, they do still have a small chance at winning a minor premiership (although they are paying $101 with the bookies) or pushing up into an all-important top-two spot, so if the Tigers are expecting a relaxed side come Saturday afternoon, they better think again.

After getting over the top of the Sharks last weekend, the Titans cemented third spot but the Bulldogs and Dragons are just a win above them.

Even though both of those two sides would need to lose their remaining two games to be overtaken, it is still achievable for the home side… plus momentum into the finals is paramount.

Esi Tonga is out of the side with Sam Tagataese named to replace him in the centres. Representative star Ashley Harrison is back at lock, which pushes Will Matthews back to the bench.

Kayne Lawton, Josh Graham and Chris Walker have been added to an extended bench of seven players as John Cartwright ponders the final make-up of his 17.

The Tigers, who lost a thriller to Parramatta last weekend to fall from fifth to 10th on the ladder, have been smashed by injuries.

Big barnstorming winger Taniela Tuiaki is out, with Dean Collis coming in at centre and Blake Ayshford named on the wing.

Fellow winger Beau Ryan is also out, with good friend Rhys Hanbury taking his place while at this stage the only extra reserve named is Dene Halatau.

However, Ayshford, Tim Moltzen, Keith Galloway, Chris Heighington and John Skandalis all have injury clouds hanging over them, while Bryce Gibbs fronts the judiciary tonight (Wednesday) to try to get a kneeing charge downgraded – otherwise he’ll be out also.

Should any or all of those players be rubbed out, the 2005 premiers will be facing a severe uphill battle.

Watch out Titans: Watch Robbie Farah like a hawk! The Wests Tigers skipper and hooker is a real schemer and while Benji Marshall has been the main attacking focus in recent weeks, Farah is where everything starts for the Tigers.

He has helped his side to 13 line breaks from dummy-half, the most in the NRL and many more than the three the Titans have managed.

The side also has nine tries from dummy-half to be second in the NRL while the Titans have leaked eight tries from dummy-half to be ranked 14th, so you can expect Farah to target the line from close range if he gets even just half a sniff of points.

Watch out Wests Tigers: Former Tiger Anthony Laffranchi appears to be getting back to his best rugby league after a solid game against the Sharks. Laffranchi has always been a workhorse but has added class to his game by being a great line runner and selective offloader. It allows him to score good tries and also put others into space to do the same.

After a relatively quiet season by his lofty standards Laffranchi is slowly lifting his averages and he now runs for 127 metres a match, has six line breaks, five tries and 34 offloads. He also averages just over 33 tackles a game.

In terms of being somebody to watch for the Tigers, they need to pay particular attention near the try line where he comes into his own running off Scott Prince, Mat Rogers or Preston Campbell.

Where it will be won: Guts, determination and attitude. The mental state of both teams will be the clinching factor here. You see on paper and form the Titans should win this battle; however it doesn’t take much in the NRL to bring teams back to square.

If the home side has any complacency, or if their minds aren’t quite on the job thanks to their already-secured finals berth, they will most certainly get rolled.

Similarly, the Wests Tigers have been reading all week just how hard it will be for them to make the finals now. They have a bulging casualty ward, they have to play the Titans away at a fortress; basically there are ready-made excuses. Just how they approach this game, and how they play when adversity hits in the 80 minutes, will prove how fair dinkum they are.

Everything goes on the line for them here. If their minds have any weakness or doubts whatsoever, they will be found wanting. The Tigers must believe in themselves and their own ability to recover from anything. This is easier said than done, especially if you get behind early, but internal motivation can be very powerful if used well. Momentum can shift easily in this great game of ours and a side can rack up points quickly.

The history: Played 4; Titans 2, Wests Tigers 2. The Titans won the first two clashes against the Wests Tigers but the Tigers have won the past two clashes, including the only clash at Skilled Park.

In a slightly bizarre coincidence the first-match winning margin was two points, the second 16 points, the third two points and the last 16 once again… so should we expect a two-point margin?

Conclusion: The Titans deserve favouritism here but the Wests Tigers aren’t dead and buried just yet.

Sadly the past few years have done nothing to suggest the Wests Tigers have the fortitude to win under these do-or-die conditions but their last five weeks have been very impressive, including their effort in losing last week.

If injuries ravage them further, it would be a huge effort to win, but sometimes teams produce against the odds.

If you are tipping well, stay with the home side. If you are as desperate as the Tigers, pick them and then hold on for the roller coaster ride.

Match officials: Referees – Tony Archer & Bernard Sutton; Sideline Officials – Steve Chiddy & Gavin Reynolds; Video Ref – Paul Simpkins.

Televised: Fox Sports – Live 5.30pm.

  • Statistics: NRL Stats.

its a good read.
now with Bryce Gibbs being suspended, it opens up a new challenge.
play like there is no tomorrow, and never surrender.
all we can ask is that the team gives it their all in the game. :wahoo:

why do we have 2 get archer again??? n when will he freaking retire. i hate him so much.

Preview: Titans v Wests Tigers
Scott Brooks, Sportal

VENUE & TIME: Skilled Park, Saturday August 29, 5.35pm (AEST).
COVERAGE: Fox Sports 2
LAST TIME: Tigers 28 - Titans 12 at Skilled Park, Round 26, 2008.

WALKING WOUNDED: The Titans have received a boost with QLD Origin star Ash Harrison returning at lock from six-weeks on the sidelines with rib cartilage damage sustained in Origin III. Utility Sam Tagataese impressed off the bench last week and will start in the centres to replace the injured Esi Tonga (shoulder). Chris Walker returns from a quad injury on an extended bench, while first choice centre Brett Delaney (hamstring) is not due back until the finals, as is suspended full-back William Zillman.
Injury wasn’t kind to the Tigers last Friday night with this season’s leading try-scorer, Taniela Tuiaki, ruled out for the remainder of the season with a badly broken leg. Fellow winger Beau Ryan is also out with a knee injury, while full-back Tim Moltzen (collarbone), lock Chris Heighington (knee) and Keith Galloway (hand) all remain in doubt. Prop Bryce Gibbs will risk a three-match ban for a dangerous contact charge if his grading challenge at the judiciary fails. Veteran forward John Skandalis has been named on an extended bench after missing last week with a corked leg.

FORM: There was little to get excited about at a warm Skilled Park last Sunday as the Titans cruised to their third-straight win - a 20-10 defeat of the Sharks in an uninspiring clash. But the result was significant for the NRL’s newest club, guaranteeing it of a precious home final.
The Tigers’ six-game winning streak came to an end against the Eels last week in a result that saw them crash from fifth spot on the ladder to 10th. They scored the opening two tries of the blockbuster clash, but injuries to both their wingers threw their backline structure into chaos and Parramatta took full advantage. For the Tigers to now make the finals they will need to win their remaining two matches against top-four sides the Titans and Bulldogs.

WHO’S HOT: Titans back-rower Anthony Laffranchi put in a solid performance for the Titans last Sunday, yielding 141m from 16 hit-ups and fighting his way over for a try. Along with hooker Nathan Friend, the former Test forward remains one of the more consistent performers at the finals-bound club.
There was a lot of hype surrounding Benji Marshall in the lead-up to the Tigers-Eels clash and the Kiwi skipper didn’t disappoint, despite his team going down in the end. His flick pass to send Blake Ayshford over for the opening try was pure class and set the tone for what proved to be one of the games of the season.

WE THINK: The Titans have won 10 of their past 11 games at home and their previous five Saturday night clashes, but with a top-four spot now in the bag it wouldn’t at all surprise to see them a little too relaxed in this one. The Tigers have it all to play for and shouldn’t have any problems in the desperation stakes, although they will be taking a couple of wounded troops into this clash. There is no doubt the NRL would prefer a Tigers victory here as it would set up a possible sell-out final round clash with the Bulldogs at the SFS. If Marshall and Farah can maintain their impressive form, the league may well get its wish. Tigers by 6.

TEAMS
Gold Coast Titans:
Preston Campbell, Kevin Gordon, Sam Tagataese, Jordan Atkins, David Mead, Mat Rogers, Scott Prince [c], Luke Bailey [c], Nathan Friend, Matthew White, Anthony Laffranchi, Mark Minichiello, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Michael Henderson, Brad Meyers, Luke O’Dwyer, Kayne Lawton, Josh Graham, Will Matthews, Chris Walker (three to be omitted).

Wests Tigers:
Tim Moltzen, Blake Ayshford, Dean Collis, Chris Lawrence, Rhys Hanbury, Benji Marshall, Robert Lui, Bryce Gibbs, Robbie Farah [c], Keith Galloway, Gareth Ellis, Todd Payten, Chris Heighington. Interchange: John Morris, Danny Galea, Corey Payne, John Skandalis, Dene Halatau (one to be omitted).

Referees: Tony Archer & Bernard Sutton

Veteran forward John Skandalis has been named on an extended bench after missing last week with a corked leg.

Who the hell was that bloke in the 16. jumper then……He goes alright should sign him up…

Laurie Daley’s preview:

Gold Coast Titans v Wests Tigers, Saturday 5.30pm (EST), Skilled Park
While the Titans won both clashes in their debut season it was the Tigers who swept the Queenslanders in 2008. This is the first time the two have met this season and for the Tigers it represents the first of two must-win games if they are to feature in finals calculations. The Tigers lead the league in tries scored and linebreaks made and were on a six-game winning streak until Parramatta broke that run last start. The Titans have only dropped one game at home this year and after locking up a top-four spot will now be hoping two more wins can see the steal the minor premiership away from St George Illawarra and the Bulldogs.

Laurie says: I think the Titans will win this given the Tigers have plenty of injury concerns and Bryce Gibbs is out suspended. I think if the Titans are going to challenge in the final series, they’ll have to really improve on what they’ve shown the past couple of weeks. And now that they’ve wrapped up a home semi-final, maybe the shackles will come off and they start to play to style of football that we know they can.

Gold Coast v Wests Tigers

Greg Prichard | August 28, 2009

Saturday, Skilled Park, 5.30pm
Referees: Tony Archer, Bernard Sutton
Head to head: Titans 2, Tigers 2
Last clash: Tigers 28 bt Titans 12 at Skilled Park (Rd 26, 2008)
TAB Sportsbet: Titans $1.36, Tigers $3.00
FootyTAB: Tigers +8.5 points

After winning six in a row to rise to fifth on the competition table, the Tigers ran into the Jarryd Hayne express - otherwise known as the Eels - last weekend, and the result wasn’t good. The Tigers were highly competitive, but lost 26-18, and were hit hard by injuries and suspension on top of that. Wingers Taniela Tuiaki and Beau Ryan are out, and prop Bryce Gibbs has been banned for three games for using his knees. That loss saw the Tigers plummet to 10th in that tightly packed group of teams in the middle of the table, and now they must win their last two games and hope that’s enough for them to make the finals. But they couldn’t ask for a much harder task than playing the Titans at Skilled.

The Titans have a 10-1 record at home this season, and despite being safe in the top four they should still have the motivation to push hard in case either the Dragons or Bulldogs stumble this weekend and a place in the all-important top two becomes a realistic chance for them going into the final round. The Titans have battled significant injury problems in recent months, but have fought hard to mostly keep getting victories. They are currently on a three-game winning streak. But while there is no doubt about their commitment, the Titans need to become a bit more dynamic in attack if they are going to challenge for the title. Ashley Harrison has been named for a return from injury, but still has to be cleared. If he does return, it would give them a big boost for this game.

These two teams have only met four times. The Titans won the first two clashes, and the Tigers won the last two. Their only clash at Skilled saw the Tigers win 28-12 in the final round of last season. The Titans are hot favourites with bookmakers.

Prince is primed to carve up old mates

Greg Prichard | August 29, 2009

THE BIG MATCH
Gold Coast v Wests Tigers
Tonight, Skilled Park, 5.30pm

What the Titans say: Mat Rogers is tipping his halves partner, Scott Prince, to come into his own with the finals just around the corner. ‘‘I’ve noticed ‘Princey’ has taken to running a little bit more now,’’ Rogers said. ‘‘If defenders start to slide off him, he’s got great footwork and good speed, and will start scoring some tries himself.’’

What the Tigers say: They’re keeping the faith despite losing to the Eels last round. ‘‘I’m sure if you ask Parra, they’ll say they were in a game,’’ captain Robbie Farah said. ‘‘No way did we play poorly, so nothing changes this week. It’s all about preparation and performance, and if we go up there and play well, the result will look after itself.’’

What Prichard says: Huge ask for the Tigers, to try to bounce back from their loss to the Eels by getting a win at Skilled Park, where the Titans have won 10 out of 11 games this season. The Tigers have won their past four away games, so that should give them some belief that they can be successful on the road again, but all four of those games were against teams that are out of the running for the finals. The Titans are running third, and still have a chance of finishing in the all-important top two. So, while the Titans are guaranteed to finish the regular- season no worse than third, they should still be up for this game. The Tigers have been hit by injury and suspension but will be competitive. However, the Titans to win at home.

For the Titans to win: Their defence inside their own 20 metre area is hard to break down, and it will need to be strong again to stop Tigers stars Benji Marshall and Farah from finding a way through. The Titans aren’t the most dynamic team in attack, but Prince runs a tight ship, and Rogers and Preston Campbell both have the ability to make something happen out of nothing.

For the Tigers to win: It’s no scoop, I know, but it’s going to come down to Marshall and Farah. The Titans defend well at their own end, but Marshall and Farah are outstanding when it comes to running dangerous angles and either going themselves or finding support running back on the inside. They also deliver pin-point grubber kicks into the in-goal, and, in Marshall’s case, throw seemingly impossible passes to set up amazing tries.

The X factor: Mark Minichiello. It’s surprising to see the Titans second-rower has only scored three tries in 18 games this season. He punches hard at the line from close range, and is bound to have a go here.

What the bookies say: They’re not taking any chances with the Titans at home. TAB Sportsbet has them at $1.36, with the Tigers at $3. The points start is 8½, at $1.90 either way.

The late mail: Titans lock Ashley Harrison trained OK yesterday, and has been cleared to make his comeback from injury. Tigers winger Blake Ayshford remains in doubt. Danny Galea is expected to start for suspended Tigers prop Bryce Gibbs.

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