Gold Coast Titans v New Zealand Warriors @ CBUS Super Stadium
All eyes are on the returning Jarryd Hayne as the Titans and Warriors meeting a crunch clash on Sunday on the Gold Coast. Hayne was shock signing mid-week to the Titans and has been thrust straight into fire here named on the interchange bench. It remains to be seen whether Hayne, out of the NRL for 2 years is more hindrance then help for a Titans team that has been travelling along nicely this season. The Warriors secured a crucial golden point victory against Penrith last week and can knock off another one of their Top 8 challengers this afternoon. In a great boost for the Titans a near sell out crowd is expected for the clash.
The Titans put down a marker last week in earning a draw against the high flying Sharks. The side showed they are capable of playing both physically and skilful football in a game that was one of the matches of the season. Whilst question marks about Hayne's fitness must be raised if he can get back to near his best the Titans could be a real forced heading into the finals. However they will need to overcome a terrible record against the Warriors. The Titans have lost their last 4 at home to the Warriors and 10 of their last 11 overall. The titans head into the clash in 7th spot and go a long way towards securing their finals spot with a victory this afternoon.
The Warriors will be looking to Shaun Johnson to spark an attack that has been off kilter in recent weeks. Remarkably the Warriors have been taken to Golden Point in 4 of their last 5 clashes and extra time here can not be ruled not. The Warriors despite losing most of these close games have shown greater resolve of late. Earlier In the year the Warriors were belts on a number of occasions as coach Andrew McFadden came under increasing pressure. They will be ready to mix it up here with former comrade Konrd Hurell, who was a mid season trade to the Titans.
Verdict - Everyone is looking forward to this game. I think the Warriors are a good bet here. They have a great record on the Gold Coast and on a dry track they have the attack to worry the Titans. I can't see Hayne having a big impact. I expect this to be a high scoring game. Both sides to score over 20 but the Warriors to give their finals chances a huge boost with a win. Warriors by 8
Wests Tigers v North Queensland Cowboys @ Leichhardt Oval
The Cowboys will be sweating on the fitness of Jonathan Thurston as they travel to Leichhardt Oval to take on the Wests Tigers. The Cowboys were gallant in defeat to Melbourne last week and need a win to shore up their position in the Top 4. Meanwhile the Tigers are making a late charge for the finals off the back of consecutive victories against the Dragons and Eels. Leichhardt Oval is sure to be rocking on Sunday, with the Tigers and Cowboys having a history of fiery encounters.
The Cowboys have a poor record against the Tigers in Sydney, breaking a draught of 11 years with an 8-0 victory at Campbelltown last year. The game was a forgettable affair with both sides having their Origin players sidelined. The Cowboys will be relishing a rare chance to play on Sunday Afternoon and show off their attacking prowess. Jonathan Thurston and co will be looking to ask plenty of questions towards the leaky right hand side defence of the Tigers. The Tigers right side often rush up carelessly and I can see a few variations from the brilliant Cowboys attack sending them into a spin here.
The Tigers are starting to build momentum at the right time of year however they will be tested here without halfback Luke Brooks. Mitchell Moses will be asked to shoulder all the playmaking responsibilities something he will relish. However it does put extra pressure on Moses with Jack Littlejohn not known for his creativity at this level. The Tigers forwards have been impressive of late with Aaron Woods, Sauaso Sue and Josh Aloiai all in good form. Aloiai in particular has found his feet of late as a hard running back rower. Since Round 13 the Tigers have scored 20 point in every game and will need that and maybe a few more to down the Cowboys today.
Verdict - Thurston is the key here. If he plays I think the Cowboys just have too many weapons for the Tigers. All signs points towards Thurston playing however if he doesn't the Tigers can cause an upset here at Leichhardt. I expect there to be some feeling in this game and the Tigers to play above expectations. Cows by 7 If Thurston Plays. Tigers by 1 if Thurston is out.