In the corresponding clash at Leichhardt Oval last year (round 8) Kane Elgey and Mitchell Moses were the key players in the Holden Cup clash, Luke Brooks was just starting to make a name for himself in the NRL and Albert Kelly was in hot form for the Titans leading up to the 22-6 Gold Coast victory.
How times have changed. Elgey is in Kelly’s No. 7 jersey and has played a big part in changing how the Titans play with his ability to pass right at the line, with Aidan Sezer in great attacking form and running with new confidence on the right side.
And Moses is now established as Brooks’ halves partner, just as they were with Holy Cross Ryde, Australian Schoolboys of 2012 and in the Holden Cup.
It will be a key aspect of the game, four emerging halves with the responsibility of guiding their teams with their No. 1 hookers (Robbie Farah and Beau Falloon) missing.
But how their forwards perform will be their key ingredient. Without Greg Bird, it has been up to Ben Ridge and Ryan James to provide the aggression. Dave Taylor, who put in his best performance of the season against the Wests Tigers last Saturday, is the other key man.
With the Daly Cherry Evans saga certainly a distraction, it will be a test for the 17 to stick to the focus needed to match the aggressive Tigers at Leichhardt Oval tonight, with NSW prop Aaron Woods and lock Martin Taupau, who has been outstanding in the past three clashes with the Titans, the danger men in tight.
David Mead has come in for Kevin Gordon on the right wing, with Anthony Don – who has scored 10 tries with James Roberts – back to the left. Mead proved at Friday’s training session he has recovered from his hamstring injury which means he missed only one match.
This will be captain Nate Myles’ 199th NRL appearance which means he returns to Cbus Super Stadium next Sunday for his double century.
It has been speculated that David Nofualuma and Curtis Sironen will miss the clash because of injury.
HEAD TO HEAD
Played 14: Wests Tigers 7, Titans 7.
At Leichhardt: Played 2; Wests Tigers 1, Titans 1.
TRIES SCORED: Titans 40, Wests Tigers 33.
TRIES CONCEDED: Wests Tigers 38, Titans 48.
COMPLETION RATES: Wests Tigers 75%, Titans 69%
GOALKICKING: Titans 78%, Wests Tigers 74%.
Match Officials: Referee: Ashley Klein. Assistant Referee: Henry Perenara. Touch Judges: Ricky MacFarlane and Russell Turner. Video Referees: Steve Chiddy and Luke Patten.
Televised: Channel Nine – Live 7.30pm (NSW); Delayed 9.30pm (Qld)
Titans: Hoffman, Don, Roberts, Tighe, Mead, Sezer, Elgey, Douglas, Mortimer, Myles (capt), James, Taylor, Burr. Interchange: Ioane, Pettybourne, Ridge, Moseley, Paasi.
TIGERS: Tedesco, Naiqama, Nofoaluma, Hoeter, Richards, Moses, Brooks, Woods (capt), Halatau, Sue, Sironen, Lawrence, Taupau. Interchange: Seumanufagai, Galloway, Lovett, Buchanan, Cherrington, Lodge.