Ivan Cleary and his struggling Tigers welcome back Campbelltown boy Jarryd Hayne and his Titans teammates for the first time since the Gold Coast side snatched a miraculous win on the boot of the former local lad and it’s set to be an intriguing Friday night clash in the southwest of Sydney.
Both sides would like to be a lot higher on the ladder with the Tigers leapfrogged by the Newcastle Knights to be dumped to dead-last on the ladder while the Titans sit just two points further along in fourteenth.
There remains little doubt that both sides have failed to get the best out of their top talent and, depending on who might back up from Wednesday’s game, the key moments could hinge on the presence of James Tedesco, Aaron Woods, Nathan Peats, Jarrod Wallace or Jarryd Hayne, who will have plenty to prove after a game two shocker for the Blues.
The Titans led the Bunnies 14-0 at one point last week before completely shutting up shop and losing in poor fashion while the Tigers led and had their opportunities against the Sharks at Southern Cross Stadium before also conceding the match.
For the home side, most eyes are firmly planted on the future, but the weekly grind will provide some opportunities for some highlights and a chance to put on a show for the fans at home, so there will be motivation to send an always vocal Campbelltown crowd home with a win and the two competition points in their bag.
There were large chunks of play last week where the Tigers looked a solid, committed football team coping well with the loss of their two key stars, something they’ll be doing on a more permanent basis next season, but there remains a lack of finished product with the outside backs not given enough chances to score points and a young halves pairing still struggling to gain consistency.
Ivan Cleary would know the enormity of the task ahead of him and the club’s recruitment blitz shows they are focusing on being competitive in 2018, but wins in 2017 will make things more palatable and appease the restless locals, especially out Leumeah way.
Gold Coast Titans
How the Titans shut up shop and lost to the Bunnies will be a question for some time, but they will be keen to bring back as many of their Origin stars as possible and get things back on track while 2017 still holds the faintest glimmer of hope.
It’s no secret Jarryd Hayne suffered a nightmare game two for the Blues, while his Titans teammates in Nathan Peats and Jarrod Wallace were strong in their efforts, it will be interesting to see who backs up and who plays the big minutes when it counts.
Having beaten the Storm and the Sharks this year, the Titans remain a mystery to punters with their floor and ceiling too far apart to pick with any consistency.
Toss a coin, throw a dart at the wall, close your eyes and point your finger, this game could go just about any way imaginable. For the sake of fun, I’ll take the Tigers in a tight clash.
Poll: Who will win this Friday night clash, the Tigers or the Titans?