Tyrone Roberts will make his 100th NRL appearance and play a part in an intriguing battle in the halves in tonight’s clash with Wests Tigers at Cbus Super Stadium.
The 24-year-old goes into his milestone match with more NRL games under his belt than the other three halves combined. Partner Ash Taylor – who turned 21 on Friday - will run out for his fourth NRL appearance while Tigers boom boys who have played together since school days at Holy Cross Ryde, Mitchell Moses (36 games) and Luke Brooks (47), are also both 21 and developing quickly.
The former Knights playmaker will have many of his friend and families from his hometown of Ballina at Cbus Super Stadium to see him reach the milestone and hopefully lead the Titans to a win against an unbeaten Wests Tigers who have been playing an expansive brand of football with Brooks and Moses combining dangerously with explosive fullback James Tedesco.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game but I’m hoping I can celebrate with a win,” Roberts said.
“When I look back it’s been up and down journey and I’ve only made the semi-finals once, in 2013. I just want to play my role here on the Gold Coast and for people to start seeing the best from me and bringing the club some success.
“To have the family here tonight will be special to me because I can’t thank them enough for the support they have given me along the way. It’s been a tough journey at times with ups and downs and tough at times but they’ve stuck by me, and the fans have been great too.”
The Wests Tigers face a threat similar to what they encountered against Melbourne away last Sunday: a team playing with confidence and with strike players in the halves and at fullback behind a big, strong pack. And the Tigers have won two of their last three games on the Gold Coast so they have that to call on too.
Fullback James Tedesco is an obvious major threat if he gets space to work in and coach Neil Henry knows that minimising errors, getting good field position and an energetic kick-chase will be crucial to minimising the impact of Tedesco who has scored five tries already in 2016.
“We need to try to reduce his impact, he has been very sharp out the back from their set sweeping attacking plays; he’s great on his feet and a very good carrier of the ball and playing in a confident frame of mind,” he said of the Tigers No. 1 who is being strongly mentioned as a NSW State of Origin candidate.
“Our kick-chase will have to be good but he has been just turning up in their attacking zone, we need to reduce his time in our half.
“Generally we have to be more consistent over 80 minutes. Against Melbourne there was a big turnaround just before the half-time when we let in two tries, then after 15 minutes into the second half we let in two quick tries again.
“But there is a good feeling about playing at home where we have won four straight but we know it’s a good challenge against a side in form who have really stepped up. We have to match them in the forwards where they’ve been rolling down the field well.”
Centre Brad Davis is out with a shoulder injury and Henry will look at several options – John Olive coming into the side on the wing or centre or Chris McQueen dropping from second row to right centre and Eddy Pettybourne coming into the 17.
It is also the Play NRL round across the Telstra Premiership and our players will wear the socks of their junior clubs. Volunteers from Gold Coast clubs will be recognised tonight and form a guard of honour with our players running out accompanied by a junior player.
The clubs of tonight’s squad are listed below.
HEAD TO HEAD
Played 15: Titans 8 wins, Tigers 7.
At Cbus Super Stadium: Played 8 – Titans 4, Tigers 4.
Completions: Titans 77%, Tigers 74%)
Tries scored: Titans 8, Tigers 13
Tries conceded: Titans 8, Tigers 9
Goalkicking: Titans 78%, Tigers 64%
Past 5 results:
2015 – Gold Coast 27-20 at Leichhardt, Tigers 19-18 at Cbus Super
2014 – Titans 22-6 at Leichhardt, Tigers 42-12 at Cbus Super
2013 – Titans 36-16 at Skilled
2012 – Tigers 15-14 at Skilled
The Aquis Titans team is: David Mead (Marist Brothers Lismore), Anthony Don (Grafton Ghosts), Josh Hoffman (Grafton Ghosts), Nene Macdonald (Cairns Brothers), Tyrone Roberts (Ballina Seagulls), Ashley Taylor (Toowoomba Brothers), David Shillington (Brothers, Brisbane), Nathan Friend (captain - Gatton Hawks), Agnatius Paasi (Ponsonby Ponies), Zeb Taia (St Clair Comets), Chris McQueen (Kingaroy Red Ants), Greg Bird (West Maitland Red Dogs/Pumpkins Pickers), Luke Douglas (Lower Clarence Magpies), Ryan James (Bilambil Jets), Leivaha Pulu (Marist Saints), Daniel Mortimer (Orange CYMS), Eddy Pettybourne (Mascot Jets), John Olive (Kingsgrove Colts).
Wests Tigers: James Tedesco, David Nofoaluma, Tim Simona, Kevin Naiqama, Jordan Rankin, Mitchell Moses, Luke Brooks, Aaron Woods (capt), Dene Halatau, Tim Grant, Kyle Lovett, Chris Lawrence, Sauaso Sue. Interchange: Jack Buchanan, Josh Aloai, Ava Seumanufagai, Maniai Cherington, Michael Chee Kam.