Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
Post-Origin uncertainty turns sure-thing into potential banana-skin.
While form-lines coming into this clash suggest it should be one way traffic for the Tricolours at Robina on Sunday night, the reality could be vastly different. The hosts, Gold Coast, are last-start losers, copping a 34-0 thumping from neighbouring Brisbane last Sunday, albeit missing two key forwards to Origin duty. Those two men - Jai Arrow and Jarrod Wallace - appear likely to back up from the Wednesday heroics in winning the Maroons the third game of the 2018 Origin series.
The Roosters on the other hand have won three of their last four, succumbing only to the Storm in Adelaide by a single point. Wins over the Panthers, Knights and Wests Tigers in June have this Sunday's visitors well placed for a run into September.
However, it's not all rosy in the teamlist department - captain Boyd Cordner has been rested and the Bondi side's other two Origin reps in James Tedesco and Latrell Mitchell will be touch-and-go as to whether they play. They've also lost Victor Radley to suspension after the club unsuccesfully lobbied to have it served as part of the Under 20's Origin match played prior to the main game on Wednesday. Add doubt hanging over halfback Cooper Cronk and the numbers on the Roosters' teamsheet come kickoff could resemble more of a lotto draw.
All told, even with a few omissions, the Roosters should prove too strong for a Titans team who now sits eight points adrift of the NRL top eight.
Last meeting: Round 12 2018 - Roosters 34 Titans 14
Despite the Roosters' relative success over the decade since the Titans' inception, the ledger is almost square, with the Tricolours holding a slender 9-8 win ratio from 17 games since these sides first met in 2007. Seven weeks ago the Roosters recorded a 20-point victory in Gosford over the Titans.
Who to watch: Captain and prop Ryan James will be keen to prove to Brad Fittler he should've been an inclusion in the Blues' third game lineup. In a season of mixed results for the Titans, James has been among their standouts, carrying the team up-front with Queensland prop Jarrod Wallace and on occasion with Jai Arrow as well. His well-documented shift from the second-row to the front has been a talking point, but the Gold Coast captain is keen to get the job done wherever Brennan puts him.
With Radley suspended, the second-row pairing looks likely to be Nat Butcher and Mitch Aubusson. Aubusson has been ably filling the utility role for the Roosters for many seasons now, his ability to slot into the backline and the back-row proving extremely valuable, especially during representative periods when the Roosters' stocks are regularly depleted. He'll be called upon again this Sunday and will be looking to ensure he keeps his spot in a side which will be welcoming Ryan Matterson back in a similar role in coming weeks.
The favourite: Despite Origin injury concerns, the Roosters have the comfortable support of the betting public to win this one.
My tip: Even if the Roosters are missing a few key men, it's hard to see them giving up two points when the top eight is so tight. Roosters by 20.
1. Michael Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. Konrad Hurrell 4. Brenko Lee 5. Phillip Sami 6. Aj Brimson 7. Ashley Taylor 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James 11. Kevin Proctor 16. Will Matthews 8. Jarrod Wallace 14. Mitch Rein 17. Jack Stockwell 19. Leilani Latu 22. Jai Whitbread
5. Blake Ferguson 2. Daniel Tupou 22. Paul Momirovski 4. Joseph Manu 18. Matt Ikuvalu 6. Luke Keary 21. Sean O'sullivan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 20. Ryan Matterson 12. Nat Butcher 13. Isaac Liu 14. Zane Tetevano 15. Lindsay Collins 17. Kurt Baptiste 23. Poasa Faamausili
Referees: Jon Stone, Chris Butler; Sideline Officials: Todd Smith, Tim Roby; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Bryan Norrie;