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Titans v Roosters: Origin stars rested by both sides

The Gold Coast desperately needed a win over the Brisbane Broncos last Sunday to keep alive any slim hopes of playing finals football. 

What they served up was one of their most lacklustre performances of the season as they were belted 34-0 to slide to 11th on the Telstra Premiership ladder, eight competition points behind the eighth-placed Warriors.

How Garth Brennan's men respond to that disappointment will be the key factor as they look to overcome a Roosters side sitting in fifth place by virtue of a superior points differential to the other three sides on 22 points (Sharks, Broncos, Warriors).

The Titans need their marquee men Ash Taylor and Ryan James to take ownership of the side and ensure heads don't drop with the finals now out of the equation.

Key match-up: A man who has played 22 Origins, Cooper Cronk, matches wits with a man who most believe will one day be the Maroons No.7 Ash Taylor. Sure, Cronk has had more dominant seasons, but he remains one of the game's elite playmakers and he is timing his run to September. Taylor wants to be there one day and gets a great chance on Sunday to orchestrate an upset win which will restore some pride at the club. 

Titans v Roosters - Round 18

For the Titans to win: Backing up from Origin is never easy but if the Gold Coast are to rebound they'll need Maroons forwards Jai Arrow and Jarrod Wallace to aim up against a Roosters pack which boasts a potent mix of power and skill. Arrow and Wallace have been pivotal to the Titans' wins in 2018 and their ability to aim up four days after a bruising Origin clash will be vital to the home side's chances.

For the Roosters to win: Stay composed. When Trent Robinson's men get their structure right and Cronk and Luke Keary play off the back of good go-forward, this is one of the most formidable outfits in the NRL. If their big men stay disciplined and focus on doing the hard yards they can lay the platform for the likes of Tedesco, Mitchell, Manu and Ferguson to run riot like they did against the Panthers in round 15.

Titans stat attack: The Titans were held scoreless last Sunday, further illustrating a lack of potency which sees them with the sixth worst attacking record in the NRL. Only the Tigers, Knights, Cowboys, Eels and Bulldogs have scored fewer points in 2018. You get the feeling the Titans will need at least 20 points if they are to topple the Roosters.

Roosters stat attack: Defence wins premierships and one thing you can be sure of with this Roosters side is that they'll make the Titans earn every point. They boast the best defence in the comp and every player in the red, white and blue wall has trust in the man next to him.

And another thing: The Roosters have four of their next six games away from home, a stretch which includes games at Brookvale and Canberra and a blockbuster against Souths at ANZ Stadium. Those six games will dictate whether the Roosters secure a vital top-four spot or have to do it the hard way in September.

Gold Coast Titans v Sydney Roosters, Sunday 6.30pm at Cbus Super Stadium

Titans: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Konrad Hurrell, 4 Brenko Lee, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 AJ Brimson, 7 Ashley Taylor, 15 Moeaki Fotuaika, 9 Nathan Peats, 10 Ryan James (c), 11 Kevin Proctor, 16 Will Matthews, 8 Jarrod Wallace

Interchange: 14 Mitch Rein, 17 Jack Stockwell, 19 Leilani Latu, 22 Jai Whitbread

Maroons forward Jai Arrow is out, with Jarrod Wallace moving to lock and Moeaki Fotuaika starting at prop, while Will Matthews replaces Keegan Hipgrave in the second row. Leilani Latu and Jai Whitbread join the bench. Konrad Hurrell starts at centre for Dale Copley (hamstring, season) with Jack Stockwell joining the bench.

Roosters: 5 Blake Ferguson, 2 Daniel Tupou, 22 Paul Momirovski 4 Joseph Manu, 18 Matthew Ikuvalu,6 Luke Keary, 21 Sean O'Sullivan, 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9 Jake Friend (c), 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho, 20 Ryan Matterson, 12 Nat Butcher, 13 Isaac Liu

Interchange: 14 Zane Tetevano, 15 Lindsay Collins, 17 Kurt Baptiste, 23 Poasa Faamausili

Origin trio James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell and Boyd Cordner will all have a rest this weekend, while Cooper Cronk is also out with his wife expecting a child and Mitchell Aubusson is also a late withdrawwal. Blake Ferguson starts at fullback, Matthew Ikuvalu is on the wing, Paul Momirovski starts at centre and Sean O'Sullivan is in at halfback. Ryan Matterson replaces the suspended Victor Radley in the second row.

Head-to-head: Played 17; Roosters 9 wins, Titans 8 wins
Previous result: Roosters won 34-14 in round 12
Points per game: Titans 18.5; Roosters 20.1
Points conceded per game: Titans 25.1; Roosters 14.2
Televised: Live on Fox League

Petero Civoniceva's prediction: I thought the Roosters were very unlucky in Adelaide, and should be raring to go after the bye. Gold Coast have a few blokes backing up from Origin in key positions, it is too big a mountain to climb, even though they are at home again. Tip: Roosters by 4

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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