Saturday 16 December 2017 / 11:45 PM

NRL TITLE CONTENDERS: GOLD COAST TITANS

The Titans have all but fallen into the finals on the very last day of competition, but not entirely through their own good work. However, of the three sides vying for the last place in the top eight, the Titans were arguably the most consistent and deserving.

Why They Can Win

The underdog tag. The Titans play a relatively simple and composed style of football. They are a patient side who aren’t afraid to work hard. Because they’ve only just snuck into the top eight, they will be seen as the weakest link and easy-beats compared to the other seven sides – particularly with a first-up assignment against ‘big brother’ Brisbane. Complacency is a killer in finals football, and the Titans are a side who do make the most of opportunities provided from teams not taking them seriously.

Why They Can’t

Form. The Titans have just two wins and a draw from the 11 games they’ve played against the seven teams above them on the ladder. They beat Canberra back in Round 4 when the Raiders were very inconsistent, and notched a four-point win over Penrith in Round 11. They pulled off a hard-fought and very impressive 18-all draw with then-competition leaders Cronulla, who had won 15 straight games. Since that clash (and Jarryd Hayne’s arrival) though, they have struggled, winning just two of five games – against the Tigers by one point and last-placed Newcastle by 20.

Key Player

Ashley Taylor. The rookie halfback has been nothing short of impressive this year. Thrown in the deep end at the start of the season when first choice half Kane Elgey suffered a season-ending knee injury before their first game, the young half has improved immensely this year and has steered his side around the park very well. He has formed a good combination with new recruit Tyrone Roberts.

Squad Health 

The Titans have a few injuries to key playmakers, however some of them have been missing all year and they have managed to reach the finals largely without them. Nathan Davis (leg), Kane Elgey (knee), Karl Lawton (leg), Daniel Mortimer (hamstring) and Matt Srama (knee) are all out for the season.

Finals Record

The Titans have only appeared in four finals matches to date, losing two games in the 2009 series. They last appeared in the 2010 series where they won their opening game against the Warriors before losing in the preliminary final to the Roosters.

Run Home

The Titans come up against Brisbane on Friday night to open the finals series. Their record against the Broncos is very poor, having won just five of the 20 derby clashes. It’s even worse when playing at Suncorp, where despite winning their first game against the Broncos there, they have lost the last nine straight, with the last seven losses all being by a margin of at least 14 points. If they can overcome that assignment, the Titans will take on the loser of the Melbourne-North Queensland showdown.

[YouTube – Jack Jones Productions]

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About the author

Andrew Ferguson

A rugby league historian and stats buff – most notably as the brains behind the phenomenal Rugby League Project resource – Melbourne-based Andrew has written extensively for Rugby League Review and the Men of League magazine, and is a valued addition to CBS’s rugby league stable.

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