Storm v Titans preview

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Melbourne Storm v Gold Coast Titans Friday 6:00pm at Sunshine Coast Stadium

It's the classic NRL equivalent of David Versus Goliath as the Storm take on the Titans in only the second ever top grade NRL game played at Sunshine Coast Stadium

The Storm did what they were expected to do last week and disposed of a gallant Raiders outfit plagued by injury in a match that was fairly evenly matched, with both sides ending up 3 tries apiece but conversions and penalty goals giving the Storm the edge. 

Melbourne have shaken off concerns that they would struggle to adapt to the new faster game with 3 consecutive wins mostly against quality opposition. They should have no problem going on with the job this week, however Rugby League is a funny game sometimes and anything can happen.

The Titans showed some great resolve to come back from an early 12-point deficit to get their 3rd win of the season against the Warriors 16-12 in a thriller that saw Beau Fermor go over for his first NRL try to win his side the match. 

It was an extremely encouraging sign for Justin Holbrook who has instilled a tough backbone in the Titans, and it showed through their ability to stay competitive even after conceding 2 tries in the opening 7 minutes in an effort that put previous Gold Coast outfits to shame. It is now up to the playing group to bring some consistency, with each 2020 win so far being followed up by a heavy defeat.

Craig Bellamy has reshuffled his backline, with Paul Momirovski and Brenko Lee swapping to the wing and centre positions respectively. They also receive a huge boost in the form of their star five-eighth Cameron Munster returning from injury. Jesse Bromwich is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with an MCL sprain, meaning Brandon Smith will replace him in the front row for the time being. Felise Kaufusi returns from a knee injury, pushing Tino Faasuamaleaui to the bench. Chris Lewis and Marion Seve come into the side replacing Darryn Schonig and Nicho Hynes respectively. 

The Titans receive a huge boost this week, they're able to play specialist centres in the centre position. Brian Kelly and Phillip Sami both return from injury, allowing Beau Fermor to go back to his preferred position of second row. Sami has been named at centre, however, don't be surprised if Holbrook makes a late change and goes to the wing in a swap with Treymain Spry. Bryce Cartwright has paid the price for his wayward offload last week, dropping out of the 21 altogether, while Fermor's move to the back row means that Sam Stone drops back into the reserves. 

Last meeting: Round 23 2019 - Storm 24 Titans 8

Who to watch: Who to watch for the home side.

It is hard to go past returning five-eighth Cameron Munster for the Storm. It is a testament to the Storm system that they can lose a player of his calibre and still beat the previous year's grand finalists in consecutive weeks, however there is no question how much he will improve Melbourne on Friday. Turning 26 this year, Munster is about to enter his prime years as a playmaker, which is a scary prospect considering he has already represented his state and country and performed well on both occasions. He will look to return with a bang this week against the Titans.

Rookie NRL halfback Jamal Fogarty had a game to remember last week, his effort to steer his side to victory was made all the more impressive by the fact his senior halves partner was off with an HIA for the last 18 minutes. Fogarty kept his side in the game, applying great pressure to the Warriors back 3 late in the match with his kicking game, before making the most of a scoring opportunity to set up the winning try with a grubber before, icing it with a conversion. He will face a much tougher challenge this week against the Melbourne Storm, however a lot of confidence will be taken from his last start. 

The favourite: The Storm started the week as overwhelming favourites and have only firmed since then. It will take some kind of effort by the Titans to even go close to winning.

My tip:  The Titans have been looking more and more like a first-grade football team every week and have gotten 3 wins in 9 rounds thus far as opposed to the 4 in 24 last year. Their issue has been consistency, and each victory has been followed by a defeat of 30 points. It is hard to see them bucking that trend this week against opposition of as much quality as the Storm, however I think they will show a little more fight than they have previously considering the 17 they've named. Storm by 18.

1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Paul Momirovski 3. Justin Olam 4. Brenko Lee 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Brandon Smith 9. Cameron Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 15. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui 16. Marion Seve 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 18. Albert Vete

1. Corey Thompson 2. Anthony Don 3. Brian Kelly 4. Phillip Sami 5. Treymain Spry 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Erin Clark 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. Beau Fermor 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Jai Arrow 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Tyrone Peachey 16. Sam Lisone 17. Jarrod Wallace

Referees: Chris Sutton; Sideline Officials: Jon Stone, Gavin Badger; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Ben Lowe;

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