Aquis Titans coach Neil Henry says today’s challenge against Canberra Raiders at Cbus Super Stadium (2pm kick-off) is the toughest since the team’s run of four wins from five games since the 38-0 home loss to Melbourne in round nine.
The Titans scored two tries in the final five minutes to beat the Raiders 24-20 in round four but the Raiders were without halves Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin, and centre Joey Leilua, and have since added Junior Paulo and Joseph Tapine to the sizeable pack, forcing the ultra-reliable Shaun Fensom out of the 17.
And the Titans are likely to have to take on the challenge without fullback William Zillman who is set to join David Mead on the injured list after his best performance of the season against Manly on Monday night.
While he recovered from concussion suffered in a high shot late in game he injured his foot in the match. Josh Hoffman will go to fullback if he doesn’t play.
“This is without doubt the toughest task we have had in our recent run that has given us four wins from our last five games,” conceded coach Henry. Those opponents were Sydney Roosters (win), Penrith (win), South Sydney (win), Parramatta (loss) and Manly (win).
“Ricky Stuart has recruited wisely and gathered a very good – and big - team that will continue to improve.
“This will be a step up against a Canberra side that are close to full strength [Brenko Lee in for Edrick Lee] and will have fresh legs coming off the bye.
“They a big pack, size across the park really, and dangerous halves in Blake Austin who is a dynamic ball-runner and Aidan Sezer is a class organiser and kicker as we know, and he will be keen to play well in his first game against his old club.
“The key to their forwards has been Englishman Josh Hodgson [pictured] who has been a revelation this season. He is very skilful and dangerous, particularly close to the line and hurt us in round four by being the catalyst for two tries, one for fellow Englishman Elliott Whitehead and the other from long range for winger Edrick Lee.”
One man among the many danger men the Titans will have to stop is second-rower Josh Papalii who was outstanding for Queensland on Wednesday night and been in destructive form all season for the Green Machine.
Greg Bird training yesterday without problems and will back up from Wednesday night also.
Titans (8th) v Raiders (7th) @ Cbus Super Stadium, 2pm
Referees: Gerard Sutton and Chris James
TV/Radio: Fox Sports, ABC
HEAD TO HEAD
Played 18: Played 18 - Titans 11, Raiders 7.
At Cbus Super Stadium: Played 8 - Titans 6, Raiders 2
Completions: Titans 78%, Raiders 74%
Tries scored: Titans 50, Raiders 59
Tries conceded: Titans 53, Raiders 50
Goalkicking: Titans 84%, Raiders 81%
Past 6 results:
2016 – Titans 24-20 at GIO Stadium
2015 – Titans 28-12 at Cbus Super Stadium, Raiders 56-16 at GIO Stadium
2014 – Raiders 36-20 at Cbus Super Stadium, Titans 24-12 at GIO Stadium
2013 – Titans 36-0 at Skilled Stadium
AQUIS GOLD COAST TITANS
1 – William Zillman (capt)
2 – Anthony Don
3 – Josh Hoffman
4 – Nathan Davis
5 - Nene Macdonald
6 – Tyrone Roberts
7 – Ash Taylor
8 – Luke Douglas
9 – Nathan Peats
10 – Ryan James
11 – Zeb Taia
12 – Chris McQueen
13 – Greg Bird
14 – Eddy Pettybourne
15 – Leivaha Pulu
16 – Agnatius Paasi
17 – Nathan Friend (capt)
18 – Ryan Simpkins
1. Jack Wighton
2. Brenko Lee
3. Jarrod Croker (c)
4. Joey Leilua
5. Jordan Rapana
6. Blake Austin
7. Aidan Sezer
8. Junior Paulo
9. Josh Hodgson
10. Shannon Boyd
11. Josh Papalii
12. Elliott Whitehead
13. Luke Bateman
14. Kurt Baptiste
15. Sia Soliola
16. Paul Vaughan
17. Joe Tapine
18. Shaun Fensom