Storm v Titans: Scott returns; debut for Brimson
Can't help but get the feeling the Titans are going to be thrown to the lions this week.
After starting the season with three wins from their first five games, Gold Coast have lost four in a row and are about to face a Melbourne Storm team that was walloped by the Dragons last week.
Titans coach Garth Brennan has his work cut out this week as he tries to formulate a game plan to get his team ready to play the reigning premiers.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy openly admitted the Storm didn't measure up against the ''benchmark'' of the competition last week. He said it at the press conference and you can bet he used even more pointed words when he told his team where it stands in relation to the Dragons.
It is exactly the kind of challenge the Storm have a great record of responding to and sure to have them intensely focused on returning to the winner's circle this week. If the Titans don't come to play it could get ugly quickly.
Match: Storm vs Titans
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Key match-up: Once again a lot of responsibility will fall on the shoulders of senior players Ryan James and Kevin Proctor to get the Titans believing they can pull off an upset. The Dragons exposed the Storm at times in the forwards and James and Proctor need to show teammates that the Titans are capable of finding similar chinks in the Melbourne armour with big games against the likes of Felise Kaufusi and Nelson Asofa-Solomona.
For the Storm to win: Some might say they just have to show up, but the premiers have given up a home game to be part of the Indigenous Round double-header at Suncorp Stadium. The Storm will be looking to superstars Cam Smith, Billy Slater and Cameron Munster to get them off to a strong start and probably plan on having the game put to bed by half-time.
For the Titans to win: It will take something very special for the slumping Titans to get over Melbourne in this one. They have lost four in a row and can't get anything consistent from their halves. If the Titans can hold Melbourne up front and Ash Taylor picks this week to have a blinder, they might be able to keep it close.
Storm stat attack: Melbourne have won nine of their past 10 games at Suncorp and four of their past five against the Titans. Winger Suliasi Vunivalu has scored six tries in his past four games at Suncorp.
Titans stat attack: In their previous two trips to Suncorp Stadium the Titans have racked up 64 points. Journeyman fullback Michael Gordon would probably prefer to never face the Storm, losing 13 of the previous 14 games he has played against them.
And another thing: The Titans have ridden a roller coaster of highs and lows in their brief existence. After entering the NRL in 2007, the club finished third and fourth in '09 and '10 respectively before bottoming out with the wooden spoon in '11.
Storm: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Ryley Jacks, 8 Christian Welch, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Dale Finucane
Interchange: 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Kenny Bromwich, 16 Joe Stimson, 17 Sam Kasiano
Melbourne are 1-17, with Centre Curtis Scott (ankle) returning in place of last week's debutant Justin Olam. Dale Finucane starts at lock with Kenny Bromwich reverting to the bench. Brodie Croft and Tui Kamikamica were omitted from the squad on Friday night, while Olam and Patrick Kaufusi were cut an hour before kick-off.
Titans: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Dale Copley, 4 Brenko Lee, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 AJ Brimson, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 Max King, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Ryan James (c), 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Will Matthews, 13 Jarrod Wallace
Interchange: 14 Bryce Cartwright, 15 Keegan Hipgrave, 16 Jack Stockwell, 17 Moeaki Fotuaika
The Titans are also 1-17. Coach Garth Brennan lost patience with last week's underperforming team and made a host of changes. Bryce Cartwright was dropped to the bench with AJ Brimson coming in for a debut. Jai Arrow (ribs) is out with Jarrod Wallace moving to lock, Ryan James shifting back to the front row and Will Matthews (concussion) returning in the second row. Konrad Hurrell and Nathan Peats were cut an hour before kick-off.
Melbourne Storm v Gold Coast Titans, Saturday 5.30pm at Suncorp Stadium
Head-to-head: Played 17; Storm 11 wins, Titans 6 wins
Matches at venue: Played 1; Titans 1 win
2017 result: Titans won 38-36 at Suncorp Stadium in round 10
Points per game: Storm 25.1; Titans 17.4
Points conceded per game: Storm 16.1; Titans 26.6
Televised: Live on Fox League
Steve Turner's prediction: The Storm know what's required to be the best after a disappointing loss to the ladder-leading Dragons. The staff and the playing group will be quick to turn things around and get back to playing the Melbourne Storm style of football. The Titans are struggling. Key players are down on confidence, there are injuries and finding their next win seems so far away. I'm afraid it won't happen this week. Tip: Storm by 12