Round 19: Titans v Sharks preview - 2017 Round 19
Giant killers look to do the double over reigning premiers!
This becomes a must win match for the home side if it wants to keep its faint finals hopes alive. The Titans have been labelled the giant killers in season 2017 with wins over Parramatta, St George Illawarra and a upset win over Cronulla in the first meeting between the two sides. Stuck on 16 points with a host of other teams and sitting six points adrift of the top 8 along with a unflattering for and against of -65, the Titans cannot afford to slip in this contest at home and will be hoping it can replicate its success against the Sharks from earlier in the season. One aspect counting against the Titans is the Sharks 7-0 away record in 2017, they'll need to bring something special for this clash on Saturday night. The home side will also be sweating on the safe return of origin players Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Peats and Jarrod Wallace after Wednesday's match.
The Sharks have had a funny season so far to say the least. The Premiers are doing a very good job of defending their crown currently sitting in second place on 26 points and just two points behind ladder leaders Melbourne. However its home form has been poor with a 4-5 record but surprisingly are 7-0 away from home. No doubt it will be keen to keep that away record in tact and keep pace with the Storm who have the bye this week.
Similarly to the Titans, the Sharks will be hoping its origin contingent can get through unscathed and help it to a premiership tilt in the back end of the season. This is a danger game for the Sharks though. They are expected to win yet that does give added pressure. A victory would all but guarantee finals football for the boys from the Shire, although that could be tougher than expected against a desperate Titans side with its season on the line.
As mentioned above the Titans got the win earlier in 2017. The last clash at Cbus Super Stadium was a draw which snapped the Sharks' epic streak of 15 wins in a row. The Sharks have won two, drawn one and lost two in the five visits to the ground, and have scored just 91 points in those five matches. The Sharks hold the ledger eight wins to seven with one draw.
Who to watch: The Gold Coast Titans need more from Tyrone Roberts. A gifted playmaker that can turn a game around on his day, Roberts has been out of form this season as highlighted by his meager tally of five try assists, four line breaks and four tries. Roberts needs to take this game by the scruff of the neck and play a more direct style of attack. Roberts is a talented ball runner as well as having a good kicking game close to the line. He needs to do those things to the best of his ability and more consistently for the Titans to get a foothole in this game.
Sharks captain Paul Gallen has not slowed down in 2017 despite being at the ripe old age of 35 (36 in August) he has even signed on for another season due to his consistent play. A hard worker in the middle of the field and a very good defender, his ability to attract opposition defenders and create second phase play with his offloading ability creates opportunities for the Sharks halves and outside backs. Gallen is averaging 32 tackles a game, 18 runs and 174 metres during season 2017. Gallen is coming off his lowest metres gained in a match last round (93 metres) and will be keen to bounce back and help the Sharks to victory.
My tip: Sharks to come away with the win here. They have a better roster and its great away form will get it the win. The Titans have been terribly inconsistent and that will continue here as they lose its 11th game of the season. Sharks by 10.