Fri, May 10, 12:30pm by Rob Sheeley
Match: Gold Coast Titans vs St George Illawarra Dragons – NRL Round 9
When/Where: 3:00pm Sunday, 12 May 2013 at Skilled Park
NRL Bookie of the Week: www.Bet365.com
This could turn out to be one of the best matches of Round 9, it is a clash between two teams coming off narrow losses, both will be desperate to atone. The sides sit just two competition points apart on the competition ladder too, so there is plenty at stake.
The Titans finished fast to almost run down the Warriors in New Zealand last Sunday. The final margin was only one point (25-24). It was a big effort by an injury plagued side who also lost their half back Albert Kelly early in the game.
The Titans are still inside the top eight, on the back of their great early season form. They currently sit in sixth and are $51 with the bookies to win the title.
The Dragons began woefully against the Sea Eagles last Monday night and appeared to be headed for a hiding when they trailed 18-4 at half time. Yet they fought back and at one stage levelled the score. Eventually they went down by six points (24-18) but showed plenty of fight in the process.
The Dragons have now suffered back to back losses and will be very keen to reverse that form. They currently sit in eleventh place and are $81 to win the premiership.
The Titans welcome back their two plying wingers Kevin Gordon and David Mead from injury. They come in at the expense of Anthony Don and Steve Michaels.
Mark Ioane has been added to the squad as eighteenth man on an extended bench.
1. William Zillman
2. Kevin Gordon
3. Brad Takairangi
4. Jamal Idris
5. David Mead
6. Aidan Sezer
7. Albert Kelly
8. Luke Bailey
9. Beau Falloon
10. Luke Douglas
11. Greg Bird
12. Mark Minichiello
13. Nate Myles
14. David Taylor
15. Ryan James
16. Ben Ridge
17. Sam Irwin
18. Mark Ioane
The Gold Coast Titans playoff aspirations took a hit last weekend when they travelled to New Zealand and failed by the narrowest of margins. After the Warriors skipped away from the Titans, they came back strong and only failed by one point (25-24). It was a fair effort given the players they had missing.
Prior to last weekend, the Titans had been travelling reasonably well. In Round 7 they suffered vital player losses during the match. Hooker Matt Srama suffered a compound fracture to his finger and Luke O’Dwyer fractured his cheekbone to name but two of many injuries they suffered. They fought hard but were no match for an energetic Knights outfit, losing 30-6.
They showed a never die attitude in Round 6 to come back and defeat Parramatta from a seemingly impossible situation. But in an exhibition of fighting quality they managed to find a way to win by six points (28-22).
In Round 5, they were handed a footballing exhibition by an in form Broncos outfit. A combination of injuries before and during the match did not help the Titans cause. They were never in the game and eventually lost by twenty points (32-12).
No doubt, the Titans biggest scalp this season is their 16-14 win over the Sea Eagles in Round 3. That win showed what the Titans are capable of under pressure, especially at full strength.
The Titans will probably feel that they should have won last weekend and will be expecting a good result at home against the Dragons.
The Dragons have named Brett Morris and Matt Cooper in their starting line up. It is strongly tipped that Brett Morris will not play the match due to an injury that he sustained against the Sea Eagles on Monday. Cooper will also need to prove his fitness before the match.
The Dragons are yet to name any possible replacements for the injured duo should they miss the game.
1. Jason Nightingale
2. Brett Morris
3. Chase Stanley
4. Matt Cooper
5. Daniel Vidot
6. Jamie Soward
7. Nathan Fien
8. Dan Hunt
9. Mitch Rein
10. Jack Stockwell
11. Tyson Frizell
12. Ben Creagh (c)
13. Trent Merrin
14. Bronson Harrison
15. Matt Prior
16. Jack de Belin
17. Michael Weyman
The Dragons started last Monday’s match against Manly in woeful form. They churned out a woeful ten errors in the first twenty eight minutes which was where the game was lost. After trailing 18-4 at half time the Dragons fought back to level the scores at 18-18 before being overpowered. Given a semi decent start, they may have got away with a victory.
In Round 7, the Dragons were given a stern reminder of the fact that they are still a fair way off the top teams in this year’s competition. They were completely outgunned by a red hot Roosters outfit by 34-10.
In Round 6 against the Tigers, the Dragons skipped out to a 12-0 lead at half time and looked in complete control. The Tigers fought back to level the scores before a Jamie Soward field goal sealed a win for the Dragons.
Round 5 was a similar scenario. They skipped out to a lead against Newcastle and fought hard in the dying stages to hang on and win.
These two sides look very close on recent form so the Dragons will be looking to begin the game a lot better than they did last Monday night.
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With both sides probably seeing their Round 8 losses as “one that got away”, mental attitude is everything here. It looks a very even match up on paper so the team who shows the most enthusiasm and willingness to compete will be the one who will more than likely prosper.
The two forward packs in this match cannot be underestimated. Both are littered with players who have representative experience and plenty of NRL experience to boot. For the Titans, Nate Myles has been a model of consistency this season and along with Luke Bailey, Dave Taylor and Greg Bird forms an imposing unit.
For the Dragons, Trent Merrin has been a spearhead with tireless defence, devastating hit ups and crafty offloading. Merrin has the luxury of some handy support crew in his pack too. Dan Hunt has been particularly good and Michael Weyman’s return from injury last week was an obvious boost for the Dragons. Ben Creagh is another who continues to produce good numbers for the red and whites.
Titans half back Albert Kelly has resurrected his NRL career and, if fit, will be a key player for the Gold Coast in this match. Kelly has been named to play but will need to prove his fitness after suffering concussion in last week’s game.
Dragons centre Brett Morris is another who will need to pass a fitness test before the game after he suffered a knee strain against Manly on Monday. Should he play, he will form a vital part of the Dragons attacking weaponry.
Head to Head
Titans – $1.53
Dragons – $2.55
Titans 1-12 – $3.10
Titans13+ – $2.85
Dragons 1-12 – $4.10
Dragons 13+ – $5.65
Titans -5.5 – $1.91
Dragons +5.5 – $1.91
The Titans are much closer to full strength than they have been in recent times and will take some beating at home. The Dragons are coming off a five day turnaround from a match against one of the hardest forward packs in the NRL.
This looks very hard to split but I’ll go the Dragons on the back of a Jamie Soward field goal.
Dragons by 1
The Dragons offer superb value in both the head to head and margin markets.
Head to Head: $2.55 with Bet365.com looks tremendous for the red and whites head to head.
Margin: The 1-12 for the Dragons is even juicier at $4.10
Exact Margin: The exact margin of Dragons by 1 could be a bet for the dreamers among us and is currently $26.
First Tryscorer: For the first tryscorer of the match I like Daniel Vidot who is currently at $11 with www.Bet365.com.
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