Titans v Eels preview
Gold Coast Titans v Parramatta Eels
Cbus Super Stadium
Forget completion rates, time in possession, missed tackles or most penalties conceded late in tackle counts, the most important facet to any football team is confidence.
When you have it your brain feels clearer, your feet feel faster and everything that you and your teammates do seems to come off even better than you could possibly have imagined.
When you don't have it you lose all sense of what it ever felt like to have it in the first place.
So, as the Titans prepare to host an Eels team coming off a similarly heavy defeat against a competition heavyweight last weekend, which team goes in more confident?
Which team after a succession of off-field dramas that have compounded poor performances on it can muster the self belief to start strongly, execute well and inject just enough confidence in their play for the other team to lose theirs altogether?
Both teams have scored a total of 13 tries in the first 20 minutes of games this season but the Eels have conceded 19 tries in that same period compared to 12 for the Titans. As such, the Titans have won seven of 18 opening quarters of their games compared to four out of 18 for the Eels, making the start to this one absolutely critical.
The inclusion of former Eel Daniel Mortimer on the bench for Chad Redman is the only change to the Titans team defeated 34-0 last week by Brisbane but Nate Myles and Ryan James both remain in doubt with shoulder injuries.
Eels coach Brad Arthur has named the same team that lost 46-4 to the Cowboys on Monday night. Former Titans Brad Takairangi and Cody Nelson have both been named in Arthur's extended squad of 18.
Watch Out Titans: He may not say much on the field but it is impossible to look at the Parramatta Eels in 2015 and not be drawn to the influence of Fijian winger Semi Radradra. Despite missing a big chunk of the season with a knee injury Radradra has crossed for 17 tries in 12 games and along with Roosters centre Blake Ferguson is the only player averaging more than one line break per game. His runs from dummy-half often get the Eels out of trouble, he ranks in the top 10 in the NRL for average running metres (168m) and has dished up five try assists, including a spectacular pass for Reece Robinson's try against the Cowboys on Monday night. Not your average winger, that's for sure.
Watch Out Eels: Although it was James Roberts who burned the Eels with a hat-trick in Round 6 it is the man on his left who shapes as the danger man on Monday night. Aidan Sezer made a somewhat successful return from a hamstring strain against the Broncos last Friday night and is yet to taste defeat in three clashes with the Eels to date. Roberts has been unable to cross the stripe in Sezer's absence and if the Titans are to rediscover their attacking spark it will be at the hands of their five-eighth on the right side of the field. Sezer was the only Titan to conjure a line-break assist against the Broncos; he may have even more luck against the team that leaks an average of 24 points per game.
Key Match-up: Beau Falloon v Nathan Peats. The two former Rabbitohs have both had injury-interrupted seasons and whoever can take control of the ruck area will set their team on course for a morale-boosting win. Falloon will be playing just his eighth game of the season and in a poorly-performing team in recent weeks he has been one of few players able to hold his head high. Playing his 82nd NRL game Peats gets the big Eels forwards over the advantage line more often than not and opens up space for his outside men and has contributed significantly to the Eels' 2,211 run metres from dummy half. Whoever gets the better of this battle will likely be on the winning team.
History: Played 12; Titans 8; Eels 4. The Titans enjoy their best winning percentage against the Eels over any other team in the NRL and on a number of occasions they have gone big. The biggest win in the club's history was a 42-4 win over Parramatta in Mudgee and they gave that a nudge in April when they won 38-16 at Pirtek Stadium. Four of the Titans' six biggest wins have come against the Eels.
Did You Know? Despite their team's lowly positions they sit near the top of the try-scorer's list and both Semi Radradra and James Roberts dominate their respective teams' try tallies. Radradra's 17 tries represent close to 28 per cent of the Eels' total tries in 2015 while Roberts' 14 is more than 25 per cent of Titans four-pointers scored this season, the two greatest try-scoring contributions to a team in 2015.
What Are The Odds: Titans $1.60; Eels $2.35. Punters with Sportsbet have been rushing to back the Eels to win by 13 points or more. It's a similar story in head-to-head betting, where Parramatta have attracted three times the number of bets in comparison to the Titans. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Referee: Henry Perenara. Assistant Referee: Alan Shortall. Touch Judges: Jeff Younis and Nick Morel. Video Referees: Shayne Hayne and Luke Phillips.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live 7pm
How We See It: This could go one of two ways; it could be a dour struggle between two teams trying to rediscover some confidence or they could throw caution to the wind and produce a high-scoring thriller. As the Titans have welcomed back their key playmakers the Eels have seen theirs head to the casualty ward and to England. The Eels have scored single tries in their past two games as the Titans have been kept try-less; time to break the shackles boys. Titans by seven points.