Coming off a dominant yet competitive performance against the Sharks, the Dragons this week have a match against the Titans, which could give us an early look at the 2020 wooden spoon recipients.
Against the Sharks last week, the Dragons showed what they’re truly capable of by using the ball better than they have all year.
Also, their defence gave more than their prior performances, with gutsy tackles and the ability to force errors. In stark contrast, their amount of penalties conceded is undoubtedly something they will need to work on.
But on a positive note, their ball control and ruck speed are surely a highlighted point for Paul McGregor, who needs a repeat of last week’s performance to show he’s the real deal.
On the other side of this match, the Gold Coast Titans are coming off a touch-up from South Sydney, led by Latrell Mitchell. The Titans showed heartfelt effort throughout the match, but there was no excuse for the play on offence and defence alike.
This side looked completely different to the side who had won their first game of the year only a week prior. While they were able to force a respectable four dropouts and only conceded two penalties to Souths’ nine, there was much left to desire.
With nothing short of a laughable amount of errors (16), they put themselves light years behind the opposition with a lack of discipline. In defence, it wasn’t much better, with 36 missed tackles. The Titans showed that while their effort has increased tremendously, it’s maybe back to basics for training this week.
With both sides on possibly their last legs for the season, a win here is critical. Not only for ladder position, but jobs, seen on both sides with Justin Holbrook’s readiness to drop players to bring in younger talent, and McGregor’s job hanging by a thread.
The Titans have the edge this week. This is due to the additions looking to come into the line-up. This includes Corey Thompson, a former Tigers utility back who joined the Titans this week on a three-year deal and looks poised to make an immediate impact, being instantly put in at fullback.
With no current answer at fullback while AJ Brimson is out, Thompson could be the perfect solution. This would give Phillip Sami the ability to excel at his natural position of winger, where his best work is seen.
A name seen in the line-up for the past few weeks, which I predict is one of the few to be set in stone, is Moeaki Fotuaika. He has shown his skill on both sides of the ball, producing possibly the best work out of all the Titans’ forwards.
He’s one of the younger guys on the team. This takes a lot of pressure off him as he isn’t expected to lead the charge yet. Don’t be shocked to see a man-of-the-match performance from Fotuaika. His style of play links very cohesively to Holbrook’s style, giving hope to a recently lacklustre forward pack.
However, the Dragons cannot be counted out by any stretch of the imagination. The side is coming off a very impressive performance against the Sharks, beating them convincingly, 30-16. The Dragons have shown they have what it takes to be competitive, but the side seems to lack a week-to-week consistency, like their opponents the Titans.
While small, a 2000-fan-led boost could possibly give the Titans the edge, with the lack of cheers surely taking a toll on the players. The lucky fans chosen to be seated in Suncorp for this match will bring their all in their cheers and support.
Both sides have been unable to come out week after week and impress. This trend will undoubtedly be confirmed this Saturday.
Whether or not either team shows up and plays to their ability is yet to be seen, but it looks to make this match-up of the bottom dwellers an all-or-nothing game.
This week may decide the 2020 season for both sides, with the winner having the luxury of escaping the dreaded 15th or 16th spots (depending on the result of the Sharks versus Bulldogs match-up on Sunday night).
The winner of this match will be the team with more hustle and discipline, both scarce at times for these sides. There is no doubt this game will go to the wire, but I believe the Titans will pull off a late-game stunner to win a closely fought affair.