Kane Elgey could be a late inclusion in the Aquis Titans team to take on Canberra Raiders at Cbus Super Stadium tomorrow, which would add some relief after the loss of Aidan Sezer most likely for the rest of the season.
Elgey trained on Thursday and this morning and a decision will be made on match day whether he has recovered enough from the adductor/hip injury suffered against Melbourne in round 22.
There are a few options open to coach Neil Henry with the possibility of Daniel Mortimer dropping back to the bench, or keeping him in the halves with Elgey and putting Josh Hoffman back to fullback or centre and reshuffling the three-quarter line.
The Titans go into the match against a Raiders side who felt they were robbed of victory last weekend against Manly and now need the Dragons to lose their last two matches and Canberra to win their last three to have any chance of making the finals.
The home side are playing for pride and the chance to win successive games at home and leave their loyal fans with some warm memories after losing seven out of eight games since beating the Bulldogs in round 14 and being in the top eight on the ladder.
And Henry hopes that is enough.
“It’s an opportunity to finish our home season on a positive note,” said Henry. “We beat Parramatta last time we were at home so it would be great to finish with three straight at Cbus if we can put it together (they following Sunday the Titans take on the Dragons).
“We just hope the boys want to perform well for each other and perform well at home before their fans and members in Members Recognition Round and repay them for their loyalty.
“Canberra will be disappointed that they lost in controversial fashion against Manly and want to strike back. They have a big pack who roll down the field well and Blake Austin carved us up last time we played them - went through us twice for two easy tries. Ricky will be pushing them to finish the season with three wins, so they’ll be tough.
“We have to find our defensive focus for the whole 80 minutes, and we haven’t done that the past two weeks. It’s been a familiar pattern; we led Melbourne 12-4 and faded away in the last ten, and we were right in the game against Canterbury but in both games we let in three tries in the last ten as well.
“Having Nate Myles and Ryan James back will hopefully make a difference.”
Paul Vaughan was a strong performer in the Raiders’ 56-16 victory in round 9 in Canberra and is a threat again while David Shillington – Gold Coast bound in 2016 and who had his comeback game from injury in NSW Cup that day – will be keen to impress.
But the danger man who gets little recognition is the Raiders’ English hooker Josh Hodgson who is very smart, leads the NRL with 40-20 kicks (three) and is fourth on the list of dummy-half runs.
Ryan James and Nate Myles came through the week of training well and will take their places, with James likely to play in tight rather than the left edge where he has been effective this season.
James Roberts goes into the match having equalled David Mead’s Titans record of 16 tries in a season and is determined to add to that in the final three rounds. He is fourth in the NRL for tackle breaks with 83, however well behind the runaway leaders James Tedesco (143) and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (120).
HEAD TO HEAD
Played 16: Titans 9, Raiders 7.
At Central Coast Stadium: None played.
THIS SEASON: Titans d. Raiders 28-14 (rd 14) at Cbus Super Stadium.
TRIES SCORED: Raiders 75, Titans 61.
TRIES CONCEDED: Raiders 72, Titans 91.
COMPLETION RATES: Raiders 76%, Titans 72%.
GOALKICKING: Titans 79%, Raiders 68%.
Match Officials: Referee: Gavin Reynolds. Assistant Referee: Chris Sutton. Touch Judges: Brett Suttor and Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski. Video Referees: Steve Clark and Luke Phillips.
Televised: Fox Sports (live 2pm).
TITANS: David Mead, Leva Li, James Roberts, Nene Macdonald, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Josh Hoffman, Daniel Mortimer, Luke Douglas, Beau Falloon, Nate Myles (capt), Ryan James, Agnatius Paasi, Greg Bird. Interchange: David Taylor, Eddy Pettybourne, Matt White, Kierran Moseley, David Hala, Nathaniel Peteru.
RAIDERS: Jack Wighton, Edrick Lee, Jarrod Croker (capt), Joey Leilua, Sisa Waqa, Blake Austin, Sam Williams, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Josh Hodgson, David Shillington, Josh Papalii, Jarrad Kennedy, Shaun Fensom. Interchange: Kurt Baptiste, Luke Bateman, Paul Vaughan, Shannon Boyd.