This week has been a tough one to keep track of. Each and every day it looks as though the situation in Queensland changes, forcing the NRL to act swiftly.
It has affected the preparation of six teams (minimum) and it’s now looking increasingly likely that the three QLD-based sides will set up camp in NSW for at least the next two weeks.
One of those games to be shifted is this week’s – undoubted – game of the round. The battle between the red hot Titans and the equally in-form Raiders.
For the record, the game moving from CBUS to Kogarah has no impact on my excitement for this contest in any way, shape or form.
In one corner you have the dazzling ‘home side’ in the Titans. Fresh off an absolute blistering over the Cowboys, their second straight win over QLD opposition, Gold Coast will be looking for a statement victory.
Everyone’s favourite player, AJ Brimson, had a magical game against the Cowboys on Sunday night. His two try, two try-assist, two line break assist effort was as comprehensive as a performance can be.
David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui have been every bit as dominant as Titans fans could possibly have wanted. Fifita topped the run metres for his side on Sunday evening and crossed for yet another try.
Tino had 183 metres including 86 contact metres; comfortably a game-high.
Phillip Sammi was again a wrecking ball and has helped pose a big question to Justin Holbrook, who must decide the makeup of his backline when Brian Kelly returns next weekend. A brilliant ‘issue’ to have.
Perhaps the biggest form shock to date has been that of Tyrone Peachey. With all due respect to the talented playmaker, you got the feeling the Titans were experiencing buyers remorse in 2020.
He was fast becoming known as a player who was good at multiple positions but not great at any of those. His efforts across the first three rounds have really put paid to such claims.
Young Peach looks set for a monster season at lock or in the second row. He busted the Cowboys defence apart at times last week after threatening against the Broncs.
Watch ZT’s Dan Nichols preview the upcoming round of NRL action via Rugby League Outlaws
In the other corner you have a Raiders outfit coming off one of the strangest games I’ve seen in years. Coincidentally, the Sharks would live an almost identical nightmare just hours later due to the HIA mayhem.
The Raiders were oh-so brave on Saturday afternoon following a then unparalleled injury toll. Losing two players to HIA failures following a head clash was one of the most unfortunate moments I’ve seen.
The sight of young Tom Starling sitting on the bench by himself prior to half-time was very strange.
Despite the injury toll, the Raiders will be hugely upset that they let a 25-6 half-time lead slip. They had their chances late on but ultimately fell short in a game they should have won.
Ricky Stuart did his very best to divert attention away in a near farcical press conference by saying a lot by saying very little. It was a stroke of genius to take the heat off his players following a last minutes loss.
The Raiders will be looking for an immediate bounce back, whilst the Titans will be looking for three straight.
Throw in a possible packed house at Kogarah in what looks like ever-improving weather predictions and you have the recipe for an absolute ripper of a contest.
The Titans have lost their home ground advantage, while the Raiders actually won on Kogarah Oval just two weeks ago. For the record I don’t think it will matter at all but it is a fun stat.
As far as predicting a result goes … last week I tipped the Bunnies to cause the upset and will be doing so again here.
The Raiders are likely to be a little heavy-legged while the Titans are flying high off their ‘derby’ win.
AJ Brimson is the key and I expect him to double up on his recent good form. Titans by 6.