Round 6: Titans v Knights preview
Underperformers hoping for an Easter miracle
Easter Sunday is well known for its resurrections - so it's fitting two sides desperately in need of victories are meeting at Cbus Super Stadium that afternoon.
The Gold Coast finally registered a victory after a nightmare start to the season, last weekend beating the Penrith Panthers by twice coming from behind in a see-sawing contest. In contrast, Newcastle haven't won since beating the same club - Penrith - in Round 2.
It goes without saying then, that if either side wants to make something out season 2019, that it has to start this weekend.
The pressure is very much on Newcastle going into this clash. While both sides need the two competition points to kickstart their season, much was expected of Nathan Brown's side and so far they've failed to deliver, despite a far more formidable playing roster. The much-vaunted move of Kalyn Ponga to fullback hasn't reaped the intended rewards either and their attack looks stunted.
Meanwhile the Titans seem to have finally found some semblance of form - but the challenge will be keeping it up. Dogged by injury in the opening month, the home side have their key halves in place and while they'll be missing Jarrod Wallace through suspension, they have a formidable forward pack featuring a number of rep players who should be able to lay a platform for their zippy backline.
In 20 meetings between these sides since the Gold Coast were admitted in 2007, the Knights hold the ascendency by the barest of margins - 11 wins to 9.
Honours were shared in 2018, with the Knights victorious in Round 19 after the Titans got the chockies in Round 11.
Who to watch: The fullbacks in this game are near polar-opposites. Titans' custodian Michael Gordon is in the twilight of his career, having journeyed through Penrith, Cronulla, Parramatta and the Roosters to end up in the sea blue and sand jumper of the Gold Coast. His 251st NRL appearance comes after a tough start to the season.
While Gordon's star is burning out, Kalyn Ponga's is on the rise, but not without criticism. Ponga drew heavy attention in the off-season when he lined up for the Maori All Stars, delivering a performance that was well below what fans have come to expect of the young star. The struggles continued in the early rounds, with the Queensland product struggling with the responsibilities of playing five-eighth, coach Brown eventually moving him to fullback when it was apparent the expriment had failed. He'll need to dazzle from the back on Sunday if the Knights are to register their second win of the season.
My tip: I've decided to subscribe to the theory that the Knights have enough quality in their lineup that they have to click at some point. This opposition is their best chance to do that so I'm backing in Newcastle here. Just. Knights by 2.