NRL PREVIEW: v Melbourne Storm
Halfback Ash Taylor could be a late addition to the Aquis Gold Coast Titans team to play Melbourne Storm on Sunday if he gets through this morning’s last training session without inconvenience.
With the knowledge Cameron Cullen will handle the responsibilities with aplomb, as he has done twice this season, coach Neil Henry will put Taylor through a fitness test on the rib nerve injury he suffered against the Dragons.
The remainder of the team have no injury concerns as they face the ruthless Storm side for the second time this season, in the knowledge the score should have been a lot closer than 34-16 in round two when two brief periods of a loss of defensive concentration cost five tries.
No other team has been able to get over the top of the Titans for any extended period in the first eight rounds and that will act as motivation for the Titans who know they would have beaten Canterbury last Saturday if they’d taken better advantage of the territorial advantage they’d gained through good line speed and defensive aggression after coming back to 20-all from 20-8 down.
“That has given the team the confidence they can match it with any opposition but also the realisation that we have to make those clutch plays and be on our game for the whole 80 minutes,” said coach Henry.
“The Storm are a very good and experienced side, and proven defensively over a long period, but we know we have points in us if we play well.
“Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk are obvious dangers but they have a big powerful pack and Cameron Munster has scored four tries in two games against us so we know we have to give him few opportunities too.”
The Storm hit form with a 42-0 win against a disappointing Warriors in round eight, scoring eight tries, but before that four of their five victories were by seven points or less.
There is a little mystery around their side with outside back Marika Koroibete and Young Tonumaipea may not play which could see Tohu Harris moved to the centres.
However, the ongoing success of the Storm has been how coach Craig Bellamy can blood players who have been well prepared for the NRL and know their roles, and whoever they field in the backs will provide a test for the Titans who are keen to arrest the home record that has seen losses against the Dragons and Broncos after five straight wins since midway through last season.
Titans (10th) v Storm (3rd) @ ANZ Stadium, 2pm Cbus Super Stadium
Referees: Grant Atkins and Chris James
TV/Radio: Fox Sports, ABC and 2GB
HEAD TO HEAD
Played 15: Titans 5 win, Storm 10.
At Cbus Super Stadium: Played 6– Storm 3, Titans 3.
Completions: Titans 79%, Storm 78%
Tries scored: Titans 28, Storm 30
Tries conceded: Titans 31, Storm 19
Goalkicking: Titans 91%, Storm 67%
Past 6 results:
2016 – Storm 34-16 at AAMI Park
2015 – Storm 36-14 at AAMI Park
2014 – Storm 24-20 at Cbus Super, Titans 28-26 at AAMI Park
2013 – Storm 23-22 at AAMI Park, Titans 18-12 at Skilled Park
1 – William Zillman (capt)
2 – Anthony Don
3 – Josh Hoffman
4 – Nene Macdonald
5 – David Mead
6 – Tyrone Roberts
7 – Cameron Cullen / 19 Ash Taylor
8 – David Shillington
9 – Nathan Friend (capt)
10 – Ryan James
11 – Zeb Taia
12 – Chris McQueen
13 – Greg Bird
14 – Luke Douglas
15 – Leivaha Pulu
16 –Agnatius Paasi
17 – Kierran Moseley
18 – Lachlan Burr
1 – Cameron Munster
2 – Suliaisi Vunivalu
3 – Richard Kennar
4 – Young Tonumaipea
5 – Morika Koroibete
6 – Blake Green
7 – Cooper Cronk
8 – Jesse Bromwich
9 – Cameron Smith (capt)
10 – Jordan McLean
11 – Kevin Proctor
12 – Tohu Harris
13 – Dale Finucane
14 – Kenny Bromwich
15 – Tim Glasby
126 – Felise Kaufusi
17 – Nelson Asofa-Solomona
18 – Ben Hampton