The Titans under-20s had an impressive start to the season with a 34-16 victory over last year’s finalists Wests Tigers but they know they have to step up a gear if they are to achieve back-to-back victories against Penrith Panthers in Bathurst tomorrow.
The Panthers, always strong in the NYC competition and premiers in 2013, beat the Bulldogs 30-12 last weekend and will be a tough opponent.
Coach Ben Woolf has had to make two changes because of injury. He has lost back-rower Josh Berkers with an ankle injury, which sees Hayden Schwass come into the starting side from the bench. Also co-captain Parahi Wilson was forced out of the match due to a minor hip injury suffered at training.
Shane Wright will slot back to lock and Shane Gillham comes onto the bench.
“The boys are very positive after the win against the Tigers but are not getting ahead of themselves,” said Woolf. “They know they have a few things to improve on before we take on the Panthers.”
The Titans showed a lot of skill and cohesion last Saturday with Wilson, Shaun Hudson and Karl Lawton standing out. Debutant Jed Cartwright also stepped up to the mark and scored his first try in the competition.
The Panthers’ forwards however were very impressive against the Bulldogs, running through the middle of the ruck with power and speed and they’ll be looking to attack the same way this week. Penrith have always been a tough opponent for the Titans, winning both clashes last year.
“We are focusing on ourselves, on what we need to improve on,” said Woolf whose side troubled a lot of the top sides last season but lacked consistency.
“We let in a few tries through the middle on the weekend, so we are concentrating on tightening our defence around the ruck and on the edges.
“Faster play-the-balls, is something we are really focusing on this week as well.”
The team to play the Panthers is:
Brian Kelly, Zac Spring, Jed Cartwright, Shaun Hudson (capt), Christian Mika, Karl Lawton, Brayden Torpy, Oshea Tuiasau, Deacon Fletcher, James Iodice, Anthony Colman, Hayden Schwass, Shane Wright. Interchange: Delayne Ashby, Nathan Watts, Max Elliott, Shane Gillham.
Kick-off 12.10pm (11.10am Qld) Saturday, Carrington Park, Bahurst.