NRL PREVIEW: v Eels
The Aquis Titans will be after a confident start against Parramatta Eels at Cbus Super Stadium tomorrow night, and hopefully early points to spark some much-needed attacking confidence.
But they will have to seek that without the leadership of captain Nate Myles who has succumbed to a shoulder injury and will miss the match.
That was the bad news out of today’s final training session, with the good news coming in the sharpness of the session and confirmation Ryan James (shoulder) and Kane Elgey (concussion) are fit to play.
Eddy Pettybourne is likely to come into the starting line-up with coach Neil Henry saying he will make a late decision between Dave Taylor and David Hala for a bench spot.
But whoever makes the final 17 that won’t be declared until an hour before kick-off, the Titans know they have to get into the grind early, complete the starting sets and try to instil some pattern and confidence to get off the bottom of the ladder against an unpredictable Eels side.
The Titans have scored only one try in their last three games after averaging almost four a game in their first 14 games of the season and hopefully some of that attacking spark will return tomorrow night. But keeping possession, playing with good patience and structure, and also eradicating poor defensive reads and getting the missed tackle count below the 30-something that has featured quite a few matches, are the keys to success.
“We’ve worked hard at training on staying together better defensively than we did against the Broncos against a powerful side with Semi Radradra, Junior Paulo and Pauli Pauli,” said Henry. “They are a big mobile team and we have to match them in the middle.
“Another focus is our completion rate and time in possession. Our completions were in the mid-80-s against the Broncos but weren’t able to score points. Aidan and Kane spending more time together should help there.
“We don’t need to score in the first set or two but early points will certainly help our confidence.”
Elgey and Sezer last played a full match together in round 12, a 10-point home loss to South Sydney. Elgey was injured in the win against Wests Tigers the following round when the Titans were in the top eight while Sezer was injured two games later against the Warriors. Their reunion last round against the red-hot Broncos lasted only 43 minutes when Elgey was concussed after shoulder-charged high by Adam Blair.
If the forwards can give them good go-forward and time to get good ball to centres James Roberts and Nene Macdonald, and edge forwards Ryan James and Dave Taylor if he plays, it will go a long way towards ending the five-game losing streak.
Even without Corey Norman, Anthony Watmough. Danny Wicks, Richard Fa’aoso and Chris Sandow who has departed to England, the Eels have plenty of aggression and attacking venom in Paulo, Pauli, Manu Ma’u, Tepai Maeroa and top class hooker Nathan Peats, and have class out wide in NSW rep Will Hopoate and former Titan Brad Takairangi in the centres and the elusive Reece Robinson at fullback.
Kick-off is 7pm and as usual children can attend free with a paying adult, enjoying reserved seats on the eastern stand.
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HEAD TO HEAD
Played 12; Titans 8, Eels 4.
At Cbus Super Stadium: Played 6; Titans 4, Eels 2.
TRIES SCORED: Titans 55, Eels 62.
TRIES CONCEDED: Titans 81, Eels 78.
COMPLETION RATES: Titans 71%, Eels 73%.
GOALKICKING: Titans 77%, Eels 66%.
LAST TIME THEY PLAYED: Rd 6, 2015: Titans 38, Eels 16 at Parramatta Stadium.
Match Officials: Referee: Henry Perenara. Assistant Referee: Alan Shortall. Touch Judges: Jeff Younis and Nick Morel. Video Referees: Shayne Hayne and Luke Phillips.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live 7pm