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The Gold Coast Titans will look to end their season on a high and deny the Newcastle Knights an important home final when they clash in the last round of this NRL season on the Gold Coast. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 6pm (AEST) this evening.
The Titans are chasing a record-equalling run of wins for the club, with four wins on the trot heading into this game. While they have been out of the running for a finals berth for a number of weeks, they have been playing some consistent football and will look to end their season positively in front of a home crowd.
The Knights need a win to host a home final in Week 1 of the playoffs. They may have cruised to victory last week against the struggling Dragons but their last five matches have been win-loss, with plenty of inconsistency in their performances. They are also 0-2 in matches in Queensland this year.
The Titans hold the edge in the last five outings between the two sides with a 3-2 record in some high-scoring affairs. While the Knights’ overall record on the Gold Coast is a very respectable 44%, they haven’t won on the glitter strip since 2015. They split the chocolates in clashes last year with the Titans winning 38-14 early in the year before the Knights struck back in the Hunter 38-4 at the back-end of the season.
The Knights welcome back gun centre Bradman Best for this one, as well as Edrick Lee who missed last weekend due to personal reasons. Kurt Mann returns to the side at Hooker, after serving a suspension, bumping Phoenix Crossland out of the side.
Sione Mata’utia is into the starting side for Lachlan Fitzgibbon who is injured, with Brodie Jones onto the bench. Mason Lino was a late inclusion in the halves for Tex Hoy last week and retains his spot.
There are very few changes to speak of for the Titans: Brian Kelly is into the centres, pushing Treymain Spry onto the wing and Corey Thompson named only on the extended bench. Nathan Peats has also been named on the extended bench and is a chance to play.
Heading into the finals, the Knights need big performances from star duo Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce. With injuries to other key members of the spine such as Andrew McCullough, Connor Watson and Blake Green, the responsibility has fallen solely on these two.
It is also a big week for Edrick Lee and Bradman Best. Both return just in time for the finals, and need to add some potency to a backline that at times has struggled to score points.
The Titans will just be looking for another team effort, with everyone just doing their job of late. The halves have gelled well with Jamal Fogarty taking pressure off Ash Taylor, and Mitch Rein playing some good footy out of dummy half. AJ Brimson scored two tries last weekend against Manly and has really come into his own at the back end of the year.
His speed and work out of their own half has been praised and with Origin around the corner this is his last chance to make a claim before the end of the season.
This is a tough match to tip, and much closer than the market might suggest. The Titans on a run of form get to finish their season at home without the pressure of thinking about the result. They can go out and be competitive and leave it all on the field, with the curtain coming down on their season.
They will be very confident with a month of good footy, and an extra day of rest than the Knights.
The Knights, heading into their first finals series since 2014, will be nervous and acutely aware of what the equation is: while they are guaranteed a finals spot, the home final is a big advantage to have in week one of a finals series. They haven’t had any real consistency in their side all season, have to travel to Queensland and played on Sunday, meaning they probably had two sessions to prepare all week.
The pressure will be on Ponga who looked refreshed last week to repeat his efforts and repay the faith and investment the club has shown in him. He has handled some big pressure in the past, and I expect him to be the difference in a tight affair tonight.
Knights by two.
Can the Knights go into the finals series, with a home final and riding high? Or will the Titans end season 2020 on a high in front of their home fans?
Join The Roar this evening at 6:00 pm AEST for live score updates and debate in our blog.
Kick-off: 6pm (AEST)
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
TV: Fox Sports
Live stream: Kayo Sports, Foxtel, NRL Live Pass
Odds: Knights $1.57, Titans $2.40
1. AJ Brimson, 2. Anthony Don, 3. Brian Kelly, 4. Young Tonumaipea, 5. Treymain Spry, 6. Ashley Taylor, 7. Jamal Fogarty, 8. Jarrod Wallace, 9. Mitch Rein, 10. Moeaki Fotuaika, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Sam Stone, 13. Tyrone Peachey
Bench/Reserves: 14. Tanah Boyd, 15. Sam Lisone, 16. Jai Arrow, 17. Jai Whitbread, 18. Darius Farmer, 19. Corey Thompson, 20. Phillip Sami, 21. Nathan Peats
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Enari Tuala, 4. Bradman Best, 5. Hymel Hunt, 6. Mason Lino, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Kurt Mann, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 12. Aidan Guerra, 13. Mitchell Barnett
Bench/Reserves: 14. Chris Randall, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Herman Ese’se, 17. Brodie Jones, 18. Josh King, 19. Gehamat Shibasaki, 20. Starford To’a, 21. Jirah Momoisea