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Wounded Tigers look to regain pride in regional NSW
Coming off an embarrassing performance on Easter Monday, the Wests Tigers will be out to lick their wounds against a Gold Coast Titans side riding a wave of confidence.
Conceding a half century for the fifteenth time since coming into the premiership at the hands of Parramatta in the 51-6 humiliation at Bankwest Stadium, history will need to be defied if the joint venture are to come away with two points on Saturday evening, with just six of 26 teams coming back to win the following week after conceding 50 points over the past five years.
Returning to Tamworth in hope of a better result after seeing victory snatched from the jaws of defeat against Newcastle last year, coach Michael Maguire will be stressing the importance of remaining resolute in defence after conceding ten line-breaks and 800 more metres against the Eels.
With late changes likely despite coach Maguire naming the same team as last week, fan-favourite David Nofoaluma looms as a strong chance to make his first appearance of 2019 after successfully returning from a shoulder injury with Western Suburbs over the past fortnight.
Defying the loss of four key forwards before and during the win over Newcastle last Sunday, the Gold Coast Titans will be hoping to extend their winning run to three straight matches for the first time since 2017.
Tearing the Knights to shreds in the 38-14 demolition at home, coach Garth Brennan will be endeavouring to maintain his side's run of dominance over the Tigers having won five of the past six clashes.
Returning to regional New South Wales for the third time, the Titans have enjoyed mixed results after posting their biggest win - 42-4 - against Parramatta at Mudgee in 2013, while suffering the ignominy of being held scoreless in a 40-0 embarrassment at Bathurst two years later.
Regaining the services of Kevin Proctor and Keegan Hipgrave for the Round 7 clash, captain Ryan James will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL - the second time he has sustained the injury following a tear in his left knee in 2011.
Last meeting: Round 16 2018 - Wests Tigers 12 Titans 30
Who to watch: Set to earn his first start of the season after injuring his shoulder prior to the opening round, David Nofoaluma will be keen to make up for lost time on the right wing. Endearing himself to the Tigers faithful as the only remaining member from the 2012 premiership-winning Under-20's team, the 25-year-old Samoan and City Origin representative has been one of the club's most consistent performers, averaging over 100 metres per game since debuting as a teenager under Mick Potter six years ago. Needing one try to bring up 50 for his career, look for Nofoaluma to add to an already impressive highlights reel with a dominant performance against the Titans.
Returning to the Titans following a one-year sojourn with Warrington in the English Super League, Tyrone Roberts has demonstrated a wealth of class reuniting with the man who helped pave the way for his career in first grade. Coming through the lower grades at Newcastle under Garth Brennan, the 27-year-old playmaker has provided the Titans with a steadying hand to control the tempo of matches, while possessing the killer instincts to capitalise upon opponents as evidenced by his brace of tries last Sunday. Leading the Gold Coast to their last finals appearance alongside Ashley Taylor in the halves three years ago, look for Roberts to draw upon the lesson learnt in the UK to get the better of the Tigers on Saturday evening.
The favourite: Holding a slightly above average record winning the week after conceding 50 points - 6/11 - the Tigers come into Saturday's match as favourites.
My tip: While neither side will perform to the extremes of last week, the confidence gained by the Titans over the past fortnight should see them maintain a positive winning percentage against the joint venture. Titans by 6.
1. Moses Mbye 2. Mahe Fonua 3. Robert Jennings 4. Esan Marsters 5. Corey Thompson 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Luke Brooks 14. Ben Matulino 9. Robbie Farah 10. Alex Twal 11. Ryan Matterson 21. Chris McQueen 13. Josh Aloiai 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Matt Eisenhuth 18. Paul Momirovski 19. Elijah Taylor
1. Michael Gordon 2. Anthony Don 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Brian Kelly 5. Dale Copley 6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ash Taylor 8. Shannon Boyd 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. Jai Arrow 14. Phillip Sami 16. Max King 17. Jai Whitbread 18. Jack Stockwell
Referees: Peter Gough, Jon Stone; Sideline Officials: Mark Bohan, Kasey Badger; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Ben Lowe;