There were big hopes for these teams when the 2021 season began but with 10 rounds remaining both clubs find themselves outside the top eight and desperately needing to turn their form around fast.
The Raiders, grand finalists less than two years ago, have lost eight of their past 10 games with their only wins in that time coming against cellar-dwellers Brisbane and Canterbury.
Yet they're arguably in better form than a Gold Coast team coming off a four-game losing streak – the latest of which being a stunning 56-24 capitulation to Manly after leading 24-8 at half-time.
Yet both these teams boast plenty of talent and there is genuine hope that either side could still play finals football this year. The 13th-placed Titans are just two wins behind the seventh-placed Dragons, while the 10th-placed Raiders are only one win outside the eight.
Match: Raiders v Titans
Round 16 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Raiders: The Raiders will line up 1-17 as named.
Veteran centre and co-captain Jarrod Croker (knee) returns for the first time since round seven with rookie Matthew Timoko shifting to the extended bench.
The only other change to the 17 is Ryan Sutton being named at lock and Sia Soliola on the interchange after the pair were involved in a pre-match swap last round. Josh Papalii and Jack Wighton will both back up after playing in Origin II.
Matt Frawley and Ryan James were the two players omitted 24 hours before the match. Hudson Young was cut an hour before kick-off and Timoko is 18th man.
The Raiders have won their past five games against the Titans.
Titans: Maroons forward Moeaki Fotuaika has been promoted to the starting side and Tyrone Peachey goes to the bench in a late switch.
AJ Brimson (knee) returns to displace the impressive Jayden Campbell at fullback while Corey Thompson (ankle) is also back on the wing with last-start two-try rookie Greg Marzhew (elbow) dropping out of the squad.
Kevin Proctor returns from a one-game suspension to push Sam Stone from the second row to the extended bench. Beau Fermor (hamstring) and Sam Lisone (pectoral, out since round 7) claim places on the interchange with Mitch Rein joining Stone and Campbell in the reserves and Jai Whitbread out of the 21.
David Fifita, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Moeaki Fotuaika are all named to back up from Origin II.
Rein and Jayden Campbell were dropped from the squad 24 hours before kick-off. Sam McIntyre was cut an hour before kick-off and Stone is 18th man.
Titans winger Corey Thompson will play his 100th NRL game.
Match: Raiders v Titans
Round 16 -
Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Bailey SimonssonFullback for Titans is number 1 Alexander Brimson
Winger for Raiders is number 2 Semi ValemeiWinger for Titans is number 2 Phillip Sami
Centre for Raiders is number 3 Jarrod CrokerCentre for Titans is number 3 Brian Kelly
Centre for Raiders is number 4 Sebastian KrisCentre for Titans is number 4 Patrick Herbert
Winger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan RapanaWinger for Titans is number 5 Corey Thompson
Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack WightonFive-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Ashley Taylor
Halfback for Raiders is number 7 Sam WilliamsHalfback for Titans is number 7 Jamal Fogarty
Prop for Raiders is number 8 Josh PapaliiProp for Titans is number 8 Jarrod Wallace
Hooker for Raiders is number 9 Josh HodgsonHooker for Titans is number 9 Erin Clark
Prop for Raiders is number 10 Dunamis LuiProp for Titans is number 10 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Corey Harawira-Naera2nd Row for Titans is number 11 Kevin Proctor
2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead2nd Row for Titans is number 12 David Fifita
Lock for Raiders is number 13 Ryan SuttonLock for Titans is number 16 Moeaki Fotuaika
Interchange for Raiders is number 14 Tom StarlingInterchange for Titans is number 13 Tyrone Peachey
Interchange for Raiders is number 15 Emre GulerInterchange for Titans is number 14 Beau Fermor
Interchange for Raiders is number 16 Iosia SoliolaInterchange for Titans is number 15 Sam Lisone
Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Joseph TapineInterchange for Titans is number 17 Jaimin Jolliffe
Reserve for Raiders is number 18 Matthew TimokoReserve for Titans is number 18 Sam Stone
- Referee: Matt Cecchin
- Touch Judge: Darian Furner
- Touch Judge: Todd Smith
- Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy
Jack Wighton v Jamal Fogarty: These two were teammates for the Indigenous All Stars at the start of the season and are their teams' key playmakers here, but are chalk and cheese as players.
Wighton, one of the game's most dangerous ball-runners, had represented NSW and Australia and won a Clive Churchill Medal before Fogarty (just a year younger) had established himself as an NRL regular.
Yet Fogarty has arguably had the edge on Wighton this year, producing nine try assists to Wighton's four and matching the Raiders star's three tries. The Titans No.7 will likely need to outperform the Canberra No.6 if the underdogs are to spring a surprise here.
A glance at the NRL's attacking stats this year suggests the Titans should be among the top-eight contenders. They rank second in the league for tackle breaks, third for offloads, fourth for runs and run metres and fifth for line breaks.
So why do they languish in 13th place on the ladder? A defence ranked the third worst in the NRL has been their undoing, and must be their top priority in the run home.
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