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2 days ago
Two teams, two winners - who advances in Round 2?
When the NRL draw was put out last year I doubt anyone at HQ expected this game to be pitting Round 1 winners against each other, but here we are.
The Warriors made few significant changes to their side in the off-season and had been widely tipped to make little impact this year, the Titans much the same after losing Jarryd Hayne and key off-season signings doing little to replace his class in the backline.
But come last weekend, both sides had a W in the bag, and both look like they could be more than just cannon fodder this season. Of the pair, the Warriors were easily the more convincing, giving Souths a footballing lesson in Perth to get themselves off the mark on their ninth visit to the Western Australian capital. The Titans on the other hand were dominated early and relied on plenty of flash (and some poor opposition defence) to reel the Raiders in on Sunday night at their Robina home.
The visitors will be buoyed by the fact points were easier to come by on Sunday compared to their average last year, and there's no doubt if they want to make it 2/2 on Saturday they will need to score plenty against a Warriors side containing plenty of flair.
In terms of team news, there wasn't much happening on Tuesday with both sides naming the same outfits that got the job done in Round 1, but on Friday afternoon confirmation came through Ash Taylor will miss out with a hamstring injury for the Titans, forcing a reshuffle that will see new signing Bryce Cartwright play at five-eighth and Morgan Boyle at lock.
Last meeting: Round 14 2017 - Titans 12 Warriors 34
Who to watch: Adam Blair attracted plenty of scrutiny at both the Tigers and Broncos, but seems to have flown under the radar after his opening game with the Warriors. A keen eye will be on the Kiwis enforcer who led his nation in last year's failed World Cup campaign which saw the co-hosts drop out during the Quarter Final phase.
For the Titans the late change bringing Bryce Cartwright into the halves to partner Kane Elgey (in the absence of an injured Ash Taylor) will be a real point to watch. Cartwright's previous experiments at Penrith wearing the #6 have been met with mixed results.
The favourite: Home ground advantage combined with a much more dominant Round 1 win sees the Warriors better backed in this one.
My tip: It would take some significant defensive issues for the Warriors to lose this one for mine. They aren't impenetrable but they should be able to hold out the Titans, especially with Taylor omitted. Warriors by 12.
1. Roger Tuivasa-sheck 2. David Fusitua 3. Peta Hiku 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Blake Green 7. Shaun Johnson 8. James Gavet 9. Issac Luke 10. Adam Blair 11. Isaiah Papalii 12. Tohu Harris 13. Ligi Sao 14. Sam Cook 15. Leivaha Pulu 16. Sam Lisone 17. Bunty Afoa
1. Michael Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Phillip Sami 13. Bryce Cartwright 6. Kane Elgey 8. Jai Arrow 9. Nathan Peats 10. Leilani Latu 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan James 16. Will Matthews 14. Mitch Rein 15. Max King 17. Morgan Boyle 18. Keegan Hipgrave
Referees: Adam Gee, Gavin Reynolds; Sideline Officials: Chris McMillan, Michael Wise; Video Referees: Luke Patten, Jared Maxwell;