Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
The conclusion of 2019's first round comes to us from the sunny shores of the Gold Coast as for the second year in a row the Titans host the Canberra Raiders on Sunday night.
Both sides had disappointing seasons in 2018 and some solid off-season recruiting has given each of them promise - especially the Gold Coast - who made the key signings of Shannon Boyd (from the Raiders) and Tyrone Peachey who makes the trip up from Penrith. Although it is hard to read anything into trial form, the Titans head into the season on the back of two defeats, with narrow losses to both the Cowboys and Broncos. They lost these matches by six and three points respectively, but despite this, there were good signs with a number of key players, including the enigmatic Bryce Cartwright, putting in good performance for the Titans.
Meanwhile, Canberra played two early trials with the first coming against Parramatta at St Marys, where the 'Green Machine' were able to steal victory after going 20-0 down. They then travelled to Bega on the NSW South Coast where they were able to take victory against Canterbury 28-22, similarly after trailing by a considerable margin at halftime. In 2019, the Raiders have added just two big signings with John Bateman and Ryan Sutton joining the club from the Wigan Warriors in the English Super League.
These two sides played each other in Round 1 last season with the Gold Coast taking victory, but in recent years the Titans have had a decent record in the opening weekend of the NRL overall, with three victories in that time. Meanwhile, for the Raiders Round 1 has been a tricky affair with just two wins in the past five seasons - although they have had to play away on four of those occasions.
Last meeting: Round 9 2018 - Raiders 32 Titans 18
Who to watch: One of the big recruits for the Titans, Tyrone Peachey will be a key player to watch for the Titans. The man nicknamed Peach was a fan favourite at the Panthers and the move came with a touch of controversy, with Peachey at one point looking to back out of the deal. He elected to honour his contract and moved to the Gold Coast, and has shown glimpses in the trials but he has electric speed and unpredictability that could help the Titans.
Jack Wighton is the player to watch for the Raiders with Ricky Stuart opting for a halves switch for the talented fullback, who moves into the number 6 jersey to start the 2019 season. The move isn't an unfamiliar one however, with Wighton having played nine matches for the Raiders in that role - way back in 2014. The swap will be key to see how Wighton plays in attack and in defence and whether it's a winning move for Stuart's side.
The favourite: The favourites for the clash are the Gold Coast, who are at home and have had the wood over the Raiders in recent times.
My tip: It's hard to go past the Titans - whilst not being a finished product they look to be the stronger of the two sides, and at home they should be strong enough to take the victory. Canberra look to have plenty of questions marks and whilst they're a team that can surprise, the hosts should have too much class where it matters. Titans by 10.
1. Michael Gordon 2. Brenko Lee 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Brian Kelly 5. Phillip Sami 6. Tyrone Roberts 14. Alexander Brimson 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Shannon Boyd 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan James 13. Jai Arrow 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 16. Max King 17. Bryce Cartwright 19. Dale Copley
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 16. Dunamis Lui 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. John Bateman 10. Iosia Soliola 14. Siliva Havili 15. Ryan Sutton 17. Corey Horsburgh
Referees: Dave Munro, Liam Kennedy; Sideline Officials: Mark Bohan, Phil Henderson; Video Referees: Henry Perenara, Bryan Norrie;