GOLD COAST TITANS V NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS – 8.00PM (NZT)/6.00PM (AEST), FRIDAY, JUNE 14 @ CBUS SUPER STADIUM
The Storylines: After an encouraging few weeks leading into the bye, the Warriors suffered a demoralising 32-10 loss to the Storm last Saturday.
They led 10-2 following arguably their best opening half-hour of the season but capitulated after leaking soft tries either side of halftime, ultimately conceding the last 30 points of the match.
The Warriors’ pack is repeatedly being shown up as a unit with a lack of size, variety and mongrel. Their spine – even Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – is in poor collective form, with Blake Green, in particular, badly out of sorts.
“A real lack of digging our heels in" – Kearney
— Vodafone Warriors (@NZWarriors) June 8, 2019
After four straight losses at Mt Smart, the 4-8 Warriors may be relieved to be going on the road again. They have won their last two in Australia and were brave in shorthanded losses to Melbourne and Souths away.
The Titans have lost their last two at home and sit second-last on the ladder. But they have rolled the Sea Eagles and Broncos very convincingly in the past three rounds.
They are one of the only teams in the comp less reliable than the Warriors, but that unpredictability – and a handy array of attacking weapons – makes them a dangerous opponent if you don’t turn up switched on to play. The Warriors, who have an insanely good record against the Titans in recent years, found that out the hard way in a 36-12 loss on the holiday strip late last season.
Adam Blair’s 300th NRL game – just the third Kiwi to reach the milestone – adds something of an edge to this clash.
We’ve said this multiple times already so far in 2019, but if the Warriors don’t get up here they can forget about playing finals footy.
Ins and Outs: The Warriors welcome back Patrick Herbert and Jazz Tevaga from injury, with Gerard Beale demoted and Chris Satae copping a one-match ban.
A gastro bug is hanging over the availability of Blake Green and dummy-half duo Issac Luke and Karl Lawton. Chanel Harris-Tavita will slot in if Green pulls out, but the hooker scenario is a bit more clouded. The Warriors are seeking dispensation to draft another player in if needed.
Second-row pairing Kevin Proctor (fractured eye-socket) and Keegan Hipgrave (suspended) are out, which sees enigmatic former Panthers Bryce Cartwright and Tyrone Peachey start.
The History: Played 25 – Warriors won 17, Titans won 8
-The Warriors have won 15 of their last 17 against the Titans, including seven of their last eight on the Gold Coast.
-Just one of their last nine clashes were decided by less than nine points.
-The Warriors have scored 20-plus points in all but one of their last 17 games against the Titans; the Titans have been held to 14 or less during that time.
-David Fusitu’a has scored eight tries in nine career games against the Titans.
-Tyrone Peachey has scored eight tries in nine career games against the Warriors, despite failing to cross in two of his last three games against the club.
-Anthony Don has scored seven tries in 12 career games against the Warriors, crossing in four of the last five encounters.
— NZ Warriors Stats (@NZWarriorsStats) June 13, 2019
A 68% winning percentage.
— NZ Warriors Stats (@NZWarriorsStats) June 12, 2019
3 Key Match-ups
Kodi Nikorima v Tyrone Roberts: Nikorima’s flashes of brilliance have been a much-needed addition to the Warriors’ halves, but he has been erratic in their past two losses. He also needs to help easing the kicking load on the beleagured Blake Green. With Ash Taylor taking some time out, Roberts is the undisputed shot-caller for the Titans – and it’s a role he revels in. The journeyman was outstanding in the win over the Broncos last week and a real danger-man the Warriors must shut down.
Adam Blair v Jai Arrow: Mr. 300 needs a big game. Blair has upped his work-rate since a stint in reserve grade, but another annoying stat is now sniffing around – the Warriors went 2-0 without the veteran and are 0-2 since his return. Queensland Origin workhorse Arrow is averaging 32 tackles and 150 metres this season, a production level and intensity the Warriors would love to be getting from their No.8, 10 or 13.
Issac Luke v Nathan Peats: ‘Bully’ has been a shadow of the game-breaking inspiration that finished equal-seventh in last year’s Dally M Medal count. He has struggled with injury and inconsistency, and almost certainly has lost his Test spot to Brandon Smith for good. Hopefully that inspires the veteran No.9. It seems remarkable that his opposite number, Peats, was NSW’s hooker just two years ago. Far more dynamic and slashing on Twitter than on the paddock, Peats gets through his work reliably but can’t provide the match-turning impact Luke can.
— Stuff (@NZStuff) June 11, 2019
Last Time They Met: The Warriors bounced back from horrific back-to-back losses to the Tigers and Sea Eagles with a cruisy 26-10 home victory over the Titans in Round 4 this season.
The Titans were awful, giving the Warriors an armchair ride back into the winner’s circle. Chanel Harris-Tevita produced a fine debut in the halves.
The Warriors are 22-33 ATS as a favourite including just 4 of their last 13. The Titans have covered 10 of 16 at home. The Titans are 22-14 ATS as a home underdog over the last five seasons. Home underdogs off a win cover at 59% over the last five seasons. The Warriors have covered 6 of 7 after a 20-plus loss. The under is 17-11 when the Titans are $2.00 or shorter. The under is 5-2 when the Warriors are off conceding 40 or more points.
TAB’s Best Bet: Titans +1.5 @ $1.91
The Verdict: How can you approach this game with confidence if you’re a Warriors fan? The brief form spike in back-to-back wins over the Dragons and Panthers completely disintegrated last week in a bitterly disappointing result. But the equally erratic Titans are historically the Warriors’ bunnies and have some key engine-room outs. It’s not going to be easy and is even less likely to be pretty, but the Warriors’ classier players should be get them over the line. Warriors by 7
🎙TWL PODCAST EP 14: Warriors v Storm recap, NRL Rd 14 preview, mid-season transfers + recruitment rumours, Kiwis + Origin selection, Stats Corner and 'Tales of Runanga'.
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— This Warriors Life (@thiswarriorslyf) June 11, 2019