Rd 23 Preview - Titans V Wests Tigers
Aquis Titans coach Neil Henry has circled the side’s next fortnight as critical to its NRL finals ambitions.
Gold Coast, 10th, face ninth-placed Wests Tigers and the bottom-ranked Newcastle Knights away from home over the next two rounds and can not afford to let either contest slip from their grasp if they aim to return to the top eight.
“These next couple of games define our season,” Henry said ahead of Gold Coast’s visit to Campbelltown Stadium.
“We need the competition points. If we don’t, our season’s gone.”
The Titans have spent additional time this week focusing on lapses in their edge defence which cost them dearly in the loss to the Warriors last weekend.
Warriors centre Solomone Kata exposed those deficiencies which, if left unchecked, would open the door for similar runs by Tigers outside backs David Nofoaluma, Tim Simona and Kevin Naiqama.
Gold Coast must also be prepared to grind out a result against the Tigers who squeezed the usually impeccable Cowboys into a host of errors last week at Leichhardt Oval.
The absence of injured halfback Luke Brooks failed to bother the home side which steamed into finals reckoning on the back of Aaron Woods (179 run metres, 27 tackles) and the lightning-fast stepping of James Tedesco.
Five-eighth Mitchell Moses also had a fine game and countless sets of eyeballs will be trained on his match-up with Jarryd Hayne.
Moses said he was conscious of Hayne’s ad lib skills but would try to treat him as just another face in the Titans line-up.
He attributed the team’s past three wins to a rise in maturity to handle different situations.
“We’re playing a bit more patient, knowing when we can play footy, and knowing when we have to grind out games,” the playmaker said.
Tyrone Roberts (knee) will miss another week, leaving halfback Ash Taylor to handle the goalkicking and most of the tactical responsibilities for the Titans.
Front-rower David Shillington played his first minutes in three months against the Warriors and will be better for the experience when he comes off the bench at Campbelltown.
And hooker Nathan Friend (hamstring) is pushing for inclusion in the match day 17.
“Friendy will go pretty close,” Henry said.