Warriors v Titans: Schick Preview

Schick Hydro Preview: Warriors v Titans
Mount Smart Stadium
Sunday, 4pm NZT, 2pm AEDT

As the first month of the season comes to a close both the Warriors and Gold Coast Titans find themselves closer to the bottom of the ladder than the top, and head into Round 5 seeking a pressure-relieving win.

After four NRL Telstra Premiership matches both sides share identical records of a win and three losses, with the Warriors coming off a last-up 26-12 loss to the Dragons and the Titans falling short at home to the Cowboys 32-26.

After being a last-minute withdrawal in Round 4 due to a hamstring injury sustained during the warm-up, Kieran Foran is named to start for the Warriors but will have to pass further fitness tests prior to kick-off.

Tuimoala Lolohea has been dropped, which sees Blake Ayshford starting on the wing, while Nathaniel Roache joins the interchange for his first NRL action of 2017.

The Gold Coast received a huge boost mid-week when co-captain Ryan James beat a judiciary charge which allows him to start in the front row, while new signing Chris Grevsmuhl has been included on the bench.

Agnatius Paasi is out with a shoulder injury which sees Auckland-born Leivaha Pulu start at lock.

Why the Warriors can win: Despite sitting down in 14th spot on the ladder, the Warriors haven't performed that poorly in any of their losses this year. That is evident in the fact that they sit in the competition's top 10 for average sets completed (74.8 per cent), fewest missed tackles (averaging 26) and most average run metres (1,542). The quality in their play is there, and at home against a side who are down on their luck, this could be the week the Warriors put it all together.

Why the Titans can win: The Gold Coast are yet to be held to fewer than 18 points by a team this year, averaging 24 points per game. Heading into Round 5 they have the equal third-best attacking record in the competition, with a good balance of speed in the backline and forwards capable of producing second-phase play in the attacking 20. That could really hurt a Warriors side who are averaging 24.5 points conceded per match in 2017, and in particular the Gold Coast could find some success down their left side where Dale Copley and Daniel Vidot scored three tries between them last week.

 


The History:
Played 20; Warriors 13; Titans 7. While there's not a huge gap in the overall record between these sides the Warriors have almost had a mortgage on head-to-head meetings with the Titans since 2010, winning 11 of 12 in that period. That includes a current three-game winning streak, while at this week's venue the Titans have just three wins from nine visits.

What are the odds: Sportsbet customers hate backing the Warriors when they're favourites, which would explain why there's 50 per cent more money put on the Titans at the juicy odds. In fact, they're also going with the Titans to cover the line and win 13+. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au

Match officials: Referee: Adam Gee. Assistant referee: Gavin Reynolds. Sideline officials: Jeff Younis and Anthony Elliot. Review official: Luke Patten. Senior review official: Jared Maxwell.

Televised: Fox Sports – Live coverage from 2pm (AEDT). Sky Sports - Live coverage from 4pm (NZT).

NRL.com predicts: The Gold Coast have shown themselves to be the better of these two sides so far this year and will be favoured by many in this fixture. But home ground advantage will be huge for the Warriors this week, given Mount Smart Stadium has been such an unhappy hunting ground for the Titans right across their history. The Kiwi side are also desperate for a result given the pressure is already mounting big time in New Zealand. That should be enough to give them the edge in a close one. Warriors by four.