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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.
Last meeting: Round 15 2016 - Titans 30 Sea Eagles 10
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.
The favourite: The in-form Titans, despite their own injury woes, are expected to account for the Sea Eagles.
My tip: The Titans are riding a wave of momentum and I expect their forwards to lay the platform for victory on Saturday afternoon. Titans by 10.
1. Tyrone Roberts 2. Anthony Don 3. Jarryd Hayne 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Dale Copley 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James 11. Chris McQueen 12. Joe Greenwood 13. Leivaha Pulu 14. Karl Lawton 15. Morgan Boyle 16. Paterika Vaivai 17. Nathaniel Peteru
1. Matthew Wright 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Dylan Walker 4. Brian Kelly 5. Akuila Uate 6. Blake Green 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. Martin Taupau 11. Frank Winterstein 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lewis Brown 15. Jackson Hastings 16. Nate Myles 17. Addin Fonua-blake
Referees: Matt Cecchin, Adam Gee; Sideline Officials: Clayton Sharpe, Dave Ryan; Video Referees: Ashley Klein, Ben Galea;