Titans v Eels preview

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Gold Coast Titans v Parramatta Eels Saturday 5:30pm at Cbus Super Stadium, Robina / Yugambeh

Have the Gold Coast Titans finally turned a corner, and will the confirmation of a new coach help the Parramatta Eels find some form?

Cbus Super Stadium will host the first game for the Saturday leg of the round 19. The Titans are in unfamiliar territory of back-to-back wins and a roster slowly returning to full strength.

Titans coach Des Hasler stressed the importance of last rounds win, saying the team knew it was essential to show the competition consistency in their play. The 20-14 victory over Cronulla can be attributable to the team's defensive efforts, which kept them in the game. With players always turning up and sliding across to tighten the gaps when required, something which has been lacking lately, letting points leak for the Gold Coast.
Hasler earmarked David Fifita and Beau Fermor as players who have been consistent for the last six weeks and have been rewarded with the back to back wins, and now a chance to make it 3 in a row at home against an Eels outfit struggling to get their heads above water.

A bit of movement with the Titans team sees Jayden Campbell return from a hand injury to five-eighth; the game will be Campbell's 50th NRL appearance. With Moeaki Fotuaika representing the Maroons, Josiah Pahulu slots into the front row. Klese Hass returns from a foot injury to run on in the back row, and Phil Sami will be on the bench as he returns from a calf strain.

Even with Origin halfback Mitchell Moses, the Eels could not trouble the opposition in the last round, going down 32-16 against a spirited South Sydney team.

Unlike Des Hasler's praise for his troops of shifting across to fill the gaps, Eels interim coach Trent Barrett was critical that his players would stop shifting in defence, creating a broken line and leaking points at crucial times in the game. In a game that saw some up-and-coming talent like Jake Tago and Charlie Gymer come into the fray, but on many accounts, the team didn't find any cylinders to fire on across the pitch.

With Mitchel Moses off on Origin duty, Daejarn Asi will fill in at half-back, and Lorenzo Mulitalo will debut on the wing, replacing Sean Russell. Blaize Talagi to the centres. Regan Capmbell-Gillard will play his 100th game for the Eels on Saturday.

Last meeting: Round 20 2023 - Eels 25 Titans 24

Who to watch: The combination of Kieran Foran's kicking and organisation with Jayden Campbell's speed and knack for finding gaps will be something the Eels may have an issue with. And if Dylan Brown doesn't step up to cause pressure with his own running game, it could allow the Titans to get the ascendency in the middle to build for their forwards.

Klese Hass was starting to find some consistent form before his injury, and he will undoubtedly be back to show that he has earned his place in the run-on side. Combined with his back row partners of Chris Randall and David Fiftita, there is a nice energy that these players are tapping into. 
With Verrills and Erin Clark up front, I would suspect the Titans will try to play a quick game from the dummy half area and try to catch the bigger Eels pack flat-footed in the middle.

Fermor is in good form and will no doubt continue, as will the speedster Keano Kini. The pocket rocket is having fun with the space to move allocated by Halser, and his speed and awareness for being in the right spot will work with the freakish play that Jayden Campbell can bring to the game.

The Eel's main playmaker will be Dylan Brown, and he's one to watch because if he fires, the team will rally behind him. And if he is on the front foot, it will be the counter to the Titans half combination.

Jake Tago showed he was ready for the NRL with a gutsy performance in the last round. His talent is screaming to be given the ball, and he is the kind of winger and player who will go looking for the ball. If he and Clint Gutherson can click on the back end of the movements, it may be easy to expose some holes in the Titan's defence.

When Shaun Lane and Bryce Cartwright get on the field, they can be devastating along the edges with their rangey limbs, perfect for offloading to some speedy outside backs. A bit quiet of late; let's hope the news of a new coach can reinvigorate the team to come back to form.

FAVOURITE: With a few victories under the belt and playmakers in the fold, the Titans are coming in as favourites. Unlike the Eels, who are with their playmaker Moses and are yet to give their fans any confidence in their ability.

MY TIP: The Gold Coast is riding a high, and with a home game, they are going to get this one. Though the Eels may find some confidence in announcing a new coach, it could be closer. Titans by a try.

18. AJ Brimson 2. Alofiana Khan-Pereira 3. Brian Kelly 17. Phillip Sami 5. Jojo Fifita 6. Jayden Campbell 7. Kieran Foran 8. Josiah Pahulu 9. Sam Verrills 10. Erin Clark 11. David Fifita 4. Beau Fermor 13. Chris Randall 1. Keano Kini 12. Klese Haas 14. Isaac Liu 16. Keenan Palasia 20. Tanah Boyd

1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Jake Tago 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Blaize Talagi 5. Lorenzo Mulitalo 6. Dylan Brown 7. Daejarn Asi 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Brendan Hands 10. Joe Ofahengaue 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Matt Doorey 13. Charlie Guymer 14. Matthew Arthur 15. Shaun Lane 16. Luca Moretti 17. Bryce Cartwright 18. Makahesi Makatoa

Referees: Todd Smith; Sideline Officials: Daniel Schwass, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski; Video Referees: Peter Gough;

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