We look to close out Round 12 of the NRL with two intriguing matches. The Sharks will host the Titans taking a home game to Coffs Harbour, while the high-flying Sea Eagles travel to Newcastle to take on the Knights.
C.ex Coffs International Stadium, Sunday 2.00pm (AEST)
The Sharks finally snapped a 6 game losing streak last week against the Dragons and will take plenty of confidence from that performance. They will be without Josh Dugan and Mawene Hiroti but have been boosted by the returns of Ronaldo Mulitano and Jesse Ramien. Andrew Fifita makes his return from the bench after being left out of last week’s squad.
The Titans also come into this off the back of a win after toppling the Bulldogs in a high scoring affair. In a massive boost they will get David Fifita back from suspension while Patrick Herbert also returns from injury. Ash Taylor has been named among the reserves as he gets closer to returning from an injury.
Both these sides have been in average form recently but come into this with much-needed wins. The Sharks played much better last week against the Dragons, and were rewarded with a gritty golden point victory. They continue to struggle to score points however, having only scored 6 tries in their last 3 matches.
The Titans have no such problem, and are ranked the 5th best scoring side in the whole competition. Incredibly they still have a negative points differential which tells you all you need to know about their struggling defence. Gold Coast have played very well at times and put together some impressive performances but have put in some stinkers to go with it. They currently sit in 8th and a win is crucial to keep their spot in the top half of the ladder.
The Sharks just look as if they lack creativity and that killer punch when attacking the opposition try line. They will need to score a whole lot of points if they want to match it with the Titans fast-paced attack and I’m not sure I can see them doing that.
McDonald Jones Stadium, Sunday 4.05pm (AEST)
It’s a tale of two very different teams facing off at the moment with the Knights struggling for form while the Sea Eagles are the most in form side of the competition. Once again, the Knights will be without Kayln Ponga due to injury in what looks to be a massive blow for the home team. Tex Hoy will play fullback once again while Kurt Mann and Phoenix Crossland will play in the halves.
Manly come into this after an upset win over Parramatta where they dominated for the full 80 minutes. In another boost, they will have Curtis Sironen return from a knee injury but remain relatively unchanged from last week.
The visitors are a completely different side to the team we saw in the early rounds of the competition and have now won 6 of their last 7 matches. The return of Tommy Turbo has been nothing short of incredible as he continues one of the greatest runs of good form we have ever seen in this competition. Manly were clinical last week against the high-flying Eels and you just can’t imagine they will struggle against the Knights here today.
The Knights have now lost 3 of their last 4 and are reeling down in 12th position. There were some positives last week in a high-scoring loss to the Cowboys but you’d think they will need to go up a few notches to be any chance today. They will be boosted by the return of Bradman Best who gives them some sort of X factor in their outside backs.
The inexperienced halves for the Knights are the big concern here, with Kurt Mann solid but always has played his best footy as a utility kind of player. Phoenix Crossland is still learning to lead a side around the park at NRL level and without Ponga, it;s hard to see where points are going to come from.
Manly are flying and this looks another two points for them as they continue their surge towards the top 4.
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