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The understrength Melboune Storm have put on a stunning second-half display to run out winners over the Gold Coast Titans by 20 points.
After a first half featuring seven tries where neither coach would have been happy with their defensive efforts, it was Melbourne to stand up and do a good job in the second half.
They held the Titans scoreless after the halftime break, running on a few more tries of their own as Cameron Smith steered the side around the park with ease.
Gold Coast Titans 18
Melbourne Storm 38
The Gold Coast Titans have made big changes during the week, but it’s still going to be an enormous uphill battle when they take on an understrength Melbourne Storm at home. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 2pm (AEST).
The NRL’s latest expansion club, who have experienced ordinary results for over a decade since they were admitted to the competition, bit the bullet on their 2019 campaign during the week.
Coach Garth Brennan was given his marching orders from the helm of the club, and it’s the only factor which might give the Titans and their suffering fans a glimmer of hope this weekend.
The Gold Coast, with an array of young talent, should have been a fringe top eight side this season, but instead have slumped week after week and are, with no middle third defence and a lack of care on the goalline, comfortably the worst team in the competition.
Plenty of teams have turned it around the week after the coach goes, and the players have it all to prove, but in the Storm, they find themselves up against the run away leaders who have already all but sewn up the minor premiership.
Melbourne might come into today’s game without Cameron Munster, but they still are a professional outfit and will look to keep their roll at the top of the table going so they have plenty of options to rest players in the last fortnight of the season.
Cameron Smith’s kicking game should come to the fore today without Munster, and it’ll be too much for the Gold Coast, while Melbourne’s big forward pack – led by Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona before Brandon Smith and young gun Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who is reportedly attracting huge contract offers – will simply roll over the top of a Gold Coast pack who have struggled all year.
As much as I’d like to see the Titans manage to keep this close, it’s got all the earmarks of a beatdown. Melbourne to have a field day on the Gold Coast.
Storm by 20.
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Kick-off: 2pm (AEST)
Venue: CBus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
TV: Live, Fox League 502
Online: Live, Foxtel App, Foxtel Now, Kayo Sports, NRL Digital Pass
Betting: Storm $1.39, Titans $2.94
Overall record: Played 19, Storm 13, Titans 6
Last meeting: Round 24, 2018 – Titans 8 defeated by Storm 10 at CBus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Last five: Storm 4, Titans 1
Record at venue: Played 8, Storm 5, Titans 3
Referees: Peter Gough, David Munro
Gold Coast Titans
1. Alexander Brimson 2. Dale Copley 3. Brenko Lee 4. Brian Kelly 5. Phillip Sami 6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Jack Stockwell 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. Jai Whitbread
Interchange: 14. Michael Gordon 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 16. Leilani Latu 17. Sam Stone
1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Sandor Earl 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 6. Joe Stimson 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane
Interchange: 11. Tui Kamikamica 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tino Faasuamaleaui 16. Tom Eisenhuth