Gold Coast v Newcastle preview

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Gold Coast Titans v Newcastle Knights Saturday 3:00pm at Cbus Super Stadium, Robina / Yugambeh

Two sides desperate to turn around losses come together as Saturday afternoon football heads to the Gold Coast as the Titans play host to the Newcastle Knights.

Last weekend, the Titans struggled to break through an ironclad Canberra Raiders defensive line as they fell to a 20-4 defeat at Kogarah last weekend. Despite holding most of the possession last weekend, the Titans attack struggled to crack the Raiders defence along with a mounting injury toll.

The points that Gold Coast conceded would have disappointed coach Justin Holbrook given that the Raiders tries came through defensive lapses across the park. The Titans conceded two tries from close range when the Raiders big men were able to barge their way over through weak defence. The injury toll mounted for the Titans with halfback Jamal Fogarty suffering a leg injury and Anthony Don suffering a hip injury hurting the Gold Coast.

Despite coming from the field last weekend, Jamal Fogarty has been named in the halfback position for the Gold Coast potentially meaning Fogarty's injury is not a serious as thought. The Titans though are without Anthony Don through his hip injury with Phillip Sami moving back to the Wing as Brian Kelly returns to the centres. A possible boost for the Titans could be on the way with Ash Taylor potentially set to make his return after being named in the 21-man squad.

Injuries took a toll yet again for the Newcastle Knights during their 22-13 man defeat which saw a number of key players suffer injuries including captain Mitchell Pearce who suffered a serious pec injury. The Knights started off well but as well as the injuries, errors played a part as they struggled to hold off a confident Dragons side.

The Knights opened the scoring last weekend and were able to lead by seven points during the early stages of the second half but the mounting injury toll plus ill-discipline and errors mounted up against Newcastle as the Dragons took the victory in the contest 22-13.

Although a mounting injury toll has forced Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien into some drastic changes, the Knights have been boosted significantly with Kalyn Ponga named at fullback for the first time this season. The Knights will be without Mitchell Pearce as mentioned as well as Tex Hoy and Kurt Mann following a hamstring injury and heavy concussion respectively. The changes have meant that both Blake Green and Connor Watson move from the interchange bench to the halves. Forward Jacob Saifiti will also miss this weekend's contest after being suspended for a shoulder charge.

Last meeting: Round 20 2020 - Titans 36 Knights 6

Who to watch: After being one of the best players on the park last weekend for either side, the work of Tino Faasuamaleaui will be very important for the Titans as they look to get past the Knights. Faasuamaleaui ran for over 200m in last weekend's defeat to the Raiders and was arguably the most dangerous player on the field for the Gold Coast. If the Knights cannot keep the big man down, it could be a long afternoon.

It's not hard to work out for the Knights that Kalyn Ponga is their player to watch, the star fullback won't be able to ease his way back into NRL action following his shoulder injury. The Knights attack in recent weeks has lacked a sense of flair and with a new halves partnership, Ponga will be expected to play a role for Newcastle should they want to turn around their losing streak.

The favourite: The Titans are heavy favourites given the injury toll for Newcastle as well as the game returning to the Gold Coast.

My tip: It's hard not to see this becoming another blowout score line this weekend, the Titans have been good and a potential return of Ash Taylor could help their attack significantly. There are too many question marks on the Knights with out of form players having to fill gaps and a new halves pairing potentially making things awkward. Gold Coast by 14.

1. Alexander Brimson 2. Phillip Sami 3. Brian Kelly 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Corey Thompson 21. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui 11. Kevin Proctor 12. David Fifita 13. Tyrone Peachey 14. Moeaki Fotuaika 15. Sam Lisone 16. Jaimin Jolliffe 17. Erin Clark 18. Beau Fermor

1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Starford To'a 3. Enari Tuala 4. Gehamat Shibasaki 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Connor Watson 7. Blake Green 8. David Klemmer 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Mitchell Barnett 14. Chris Randall 13. Sauaso Sue 15. Pasami Saulo 16. Josh King 17. Brodie Jones 20. Simi Sasagi

Referees: Ashley Klein; Sideline Officials: Liam Kennedy, Michael Wise; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy;

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