Match Day Discussion
Date: Saturday, 4th August, 2018
Venue: ANZ Stadium Homebush
Kick Off: 5:30 AEST
Head Referee: Chris Sutton
Assistant Referee: Tim Roby
Head-to-head: Played 17 Eels 6 wins. Titans 11
Odds: Eels $1.70 Titans $2.20
Broadcast: Foxtel, from 5:30pm
Last Four Encounters:
1. Eels 30 def Titans 8 ANZ Stadium – Round 24, 2017
2. Titans 26 def Eels 14 Robina Stadium – Round 3 2017
3. Titans 34 def Eels 14 Robina Stadium – Round 20 2016
4. Eels 22 def Titans 12 Marrara Stadium, Darwin – Round 14 2016
The Warm Up
Prior to the commencement of the 2018 season, many rugby league pundits had the Titans firmly in the running for the wooden spoon. Personally, I regard their results and current 12th placing as disappointing as I viewed them as a genuine smokey for the top 8.
Of course, any disappointment about the performances of other teams pales in comparison to my shattered hopes about the Eels chances this year.
So we have a clash of disappointments this week!
Finding a form line for both teams is an interesting endeavour. The Titans have produced the very good and the very ugly over the past 6 weeks. With wins and losses at three apiece, it’s difficult to reconcile their 34 nil loss at the hands of the Broncos with last week’s 36 to 12 demolition of the Warriors.
The Eels go one better than the Titans when it comes to fluctuating form – they can produce their own mixed bag within the same match! Significant leads against the Knights, Dragons and Rabbitohs have been forfeited with each opponent running down an Eels team sadly lacking the confidence to close matches out.
Which Titans team will turn up?
Can the Eels produce a full 80 minute performance?
Finding the winner could just be as simple as answering these questions.
Having a Punt:
This week’s value bet (TAB) is in the to score a try and win market. Double up Corey Norman to score a try with a Parra win @$6.
The first try favourites are listed below:
Eels: Bevan French $8
Titans: Anthony Don and Phillip Sami both @$10
Feed Your Footy Brain
The Titans defence concedes two points more per game than the Eels with a season average of 24.4 points. Their attack fairs much better at 19.4 points per game to the Eels 15.1.
Tracking: Reed Mahoney
Apart from watching “Cash” Mahoney in last season’s NYC Grand Final, most Eels fans would have known very little about the young Eels rake prior to 2018.
So why is the boom rookie so highly regarded at Eels HQ?
Confidence, work ethic, determination, talent.
From the moment pre-season training began, Mahoney set about creating an impression with a mindset to get everything out of his opportunities. He positioned himself as a leader in conditioning and was regularly one of the last to leave the field as he took himself through a range of training extras.
Watch “Cash” play and he is impressively confident for someone on their first steps of an NRL career.
Supporters should expect mistakes – his enthusiasm has already brought a one match suspension.
His Rookie contract should not have led to an NRL debut this year, but the Eels injury list and Reed’s dedication and form opened that door.
He’s tough, possesses pace off the mark, and a clever kicking game. The Queensland selectors haven’t missed him, as he was a member of their victorious Under 20 Origin team this year.
Reed will touch the ball more than any other Eels player on Saturday. Expect him to play a prominent role.
Danger man: Ash Taylor
Are there any supporters out there who believe that Ash Taylor is overrated?
The Titans half has been the subject of “next big thing” hype for a few years, and has been seen as a likely Origin star for some time.
Has he delivered?
We’ve all witnessed Taylor’s capacity to influence a match, and his 17 try assists this season is NRL topping stats. Despite such impressive numbers, Titans fans might wonder when the major breakout season is coming. For opposition teams, it becomes a matter of, “Is this the week he really fires?”
Last week the Eels did a good job of shutting down Adam Reynolds for much of the game. This week they can’t allow Taylor to find any confidence or rhythm in his game.
I believe his performance will have a major bearing on the result.
Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Bevan French 3. Michael Jennings 4. Jarryd Hayne 5.George Jennings 6. Corey Norman 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Siosaia Vave 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Tim Mannah 11. Marata Niukore 12. Tepai Moeroa 13. Nathan Brown
Reserves: 14. Jaeman Salmon 15. Kane Evans 16. Peni Terepo 17. Brad Takairangi 18. Will Smith 19. David Gower 20. Greg Lelesiuao 21. Ray Stone
Titans: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. Konrad Hurrell 4. Brenko Lee 5. Phillip Sami 6. Aj Brimson 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10.Ryan James 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Jai Arrow
Reserves: 14. Mitch Rein 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 16. Jack Stockwell 17. Will Matthews 18. Leilani Latu 19. Brendan Elliott 20. Jai Whitbread 21. Kane Elgey
Nathan Brown vs Jai Arrow
The young Titans lock has finally arrived in 2018. With the kind of form that warranted Origin selection, Arrow has stamped himself as a long term proposition in the Queensland team.
Arrow absolutely rips in with and without the football and has consistently been one of the standout players for the Titans in his 16 appearances this year.
At 6 ft two and just over 100 kilograms he’s on the smaller side for a middle forward, not unlike the Eels number 13, Nathan Brown. And similar to Brown, he’s renowned for his work rate.
After winning last year’s Ken Thornett Medal, Nathan Brown has had an injury disrupted 2018. He’s still produced the typical 100m plus running metre games, but like his team mates, his form hasn’t quite hit the heights of 2017.
The Eels will need Brown to bring the aggression against a Gold Coast pack filled with current and past representative forwards.
And The Winner Is?
For those looking to talk up Jaeman Salmon’s debut for the Eels, I’d expect the flow of the game to determine how and when the young half is introduced. Above all else, this should be seen as an orientation to first grade and a significant reward in what has already been a big year for the Cronulla junior.
The Titans have a very strong pack of forwards, and this will make things tough for an Eels team short of troops and size.
Daniel Alvaro is a big out for Parra. He’s been Mr Consistency in a season providing few individual player highlights.
Nonetheless, the Eels middle men have recently stood up and matched the highly fancied Dragons and Rabbitohs forwards. If they can hold their form, shut down Taylor and find much needed running metres, the Eels possess the backline talent to gain an edge over their opponents.
This game might just open up.
Eels by 14
Eels 28 – Titans 14
Man of the Match – Nathan Brown