Round 11: Titans v Sea Eagles preview - 2017 Round 11
The Titans shoot for four straight as Manly look to protect their spot in the Eight
The Titans are no longer ‘dark horses' to feature in September footy with a win this weekend possibly seeing the Gold Coast club enter the Top Eight for the first time this year. Their sudden rise up the ladder has not come easy, however, with wins over last year's grand finalists Cronulla and Melbourne. Their performance in last week's 38-36 win over the Storm was perhaps their most impressive. On multiple occasions, the Titans could have been forgiven for submitting, with the Storm seemingly running away with the game when they scored back-to-back tries late in the second half to push their lead out to 36-28. Yet, in typical Gold Coast fashion, Neil Henry's men scored two tries in the last six minutes to salvage victory.
Meanwhile, Manly loss to Brisbane last week was compounded by an injury to star fullback Tom Trbojevic with Matthew Wright taking his place in the No. 1 jersey, a position he has not started in since playing at the Cowboys in 2014. Trent Barrett will be hoping that his side learnt from last week's loss, in which his men conceded three tries within eleven minutes to gift Brisbane the two points. This is particularly important this week as the Gold Coast have proven themselves to be quite the attacking threat this season, averaging a competition high 24.8 points per game. Yet, in saying this, Manly do sit third in this category and will look to exploit an obviously fragile Gold Coast defence, which only ranks one point better than Newcastle.
Who to watch: Although it appears unlikely that he will be given his Origin debut in Game 1, Nathan Peats is well in the mix and another strong performance this week will go a long way to convincing coach Laurie Daley that he is the right man for the job. Peats was at his creative best in last week's win over the Storm, setting up three tries and was typically strong in defence.
With Jonathan Thurston in doubt for Game 1 with a shoulder injury, Daly Cherry-Evans is in the frame for an Origin recall, yet he will need an impressive outing against the Titans if he is to be chosen. Cherry-Evans has managed just two try assists in his past six outings. Yet, his five against the Bulldogs in Round 5 are a clear indication of his potential.