Round 10: Titans v Dragons preview
Two finals hopefuls battle it out in a clash to find form
On a sold out magic round Saturday, the St George Illawarra Dragons will meet the Gold Coast Titans in the second game of the day's triple header. Despite neither team really having the home advantage up in Brisbane, support for both clubs will be high as football fans from around the world descend on Suncorp Stadium.
The Titans will be hoping that some magic rubs off on them this weekend, with the past month bringing nothing but the harsh reality of footy to their fans. Playing last week's game all the way up in Mackay, the change of scenery seemed only to worsen their problems. The 44 points to 16 loss to the Roosters is their 5th loss in a row, and they will be desperate to end that streak this Saturday.
For the Gold Coast to find their third win of the season, however, they will need to fix some defensive issues that have been prevalent in the past month of competition. The Roosters ran in some easy tries in round 9, even when they were down to 12 men. The Dragons can and will make them pay for defensive lapses.
Titans coach Justin Holbrook has opted for a number of changes to last week's 17, with a few players returning from injury. Young gun Jayden Campbell retakes his fullback spot, pushing Brimson into the number 6 role. Esan Marsters finds his way back into the team in the centres, at the expense of Patrick Herbert. Big forward Kevin Proctor has been dropped in favour of Jarrod Wallace.
Phillip Sami returns on the wing, and Jamayne Isaako takes the other wing, pushing Corey Thompson and Greg Marzhew out of the team. Jaimin Jollife has been named on the reserves as question marks remain over his fitness.
For the Dragons, their short-lived run of wins came to a crashing end last Sunday, with the now competition leaders the Storm putting on a dominant display against them. The 42 points to 6 scoreline will be slightly disheartening for St George, but they have a good opportunity this week to refind that form line against the struggling Titans. They can take some encouragement from their resilient goal line defence early on in the game, in the face of Melbourne's weight of possession.
An hour before last week's game kicked off, a number of late changes were made by coach Anthony Griffin, with young Talatau Amone being allowed the opportunity in the halves. He has named the same 17 this Tuesday that started the game last Sunday, and will be hoping that they can find a result for the club. George Burgess has been named as the 18th man.
Neither of these teams have ever won a match at Magic Round in its short history. For one of these clubs, that trend will continue this weekend.
Who to watch: Jayden Campbell returns to the Gold Coast line-up for the first time since Round 3, starting at fullback for the fourth game this season. After suffering a rib injury in his team's loss to the Raiders, he has been overlooked for the past few weeks by coach Holbrook despite reportedly making a full recovery. Now being given another chance, he will be eager to show that he deserves that number 1 jersey for many weeks into the future.
Playing in every game so far this season for the Dragons, Talatau Amone has been named to partner star halfback Ben Hunt in the halves. With a late shift seeing him thrown in at five-eighth last week, and having alternated between the interchange bench and starting half throughout the season, he will want to nail this spot down as his. A win this weekend against the Titans will certainly help his case.