Knights surge towards home final with huge win over dreadful Dragons
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Turbo set to take flight against the Titans
The Manly Sea Eagles will be looking to post a rare win at home on Saturday afternoon when they host the ever-improving Gold Coast Titans at Lottoland.
Enduring a dismal campaign marred by injuries and a lack of resilience under adversity, the Manly Sea Eagles will be out to improve upon a horror home record that has seen the side manage a single win from six appearances on the Northern Beaches this season.
Breaking a six-match losing streak last Friday with a 32-20 win over the last-placed Bulldogs, coach Des Hasler is likely to receive a welcome boost with marquee fullback Tom Trbojevic in line to play his first match in three months, while a third Trbojevic brother, Ben, could make his debut after being named as part of the extended squad. In other selection news, Lachlan Croker replaces Cade Cust (ankle) in the number six jersey, while Morgan Boyle comes onto the bench for only his sixth appearance of the season.
The match will also serve as a farewell for injured second-rower Joel Thompson who is set to join St Helens in the English Super League next season. Playing 234 matches with Canberra, St George Illawarra and Manly over 13 seasons, the 32-year-old Ngiyampaa man holds the distinction of representing the Indigenous All Stars on a record seven occasions.
Chasing four straight wins for the first time in six years, the Gold Coast Titans will have their sights set on building momentum for bigger and better things in 2021. Posting their seventh win of the season with a well-earned 18-6 victory over the Broncos last Saturday, the Titans have enjoyed success at Lottoland over the past decade with four wins from their past five visits.
Welcoming back co-captain Kevin Proctor from a four-week suspension for biting, coach Justin Holbrook has elected to use Tanah Boyd in place of Erin Clark as the side's interchange utility. Joining the Titans two years ago after previous stints with the Dragons and Panthers, experienced hooker Mitch Rein will play his 50th match for the club.
Last meeting: Round 15 2019 - Titans 12 Sea Eagles 30
Who to watch: Limited to just 18 matches since the start of last season due to a horror run with injury, Tom Trbojevic will be out to make up for lost time on Saturday afternoon. Regarded as a player with a winning influence for Manly comparable to Andrew Johns at Newcastle and Johnathan Thurston at North Queensland, the 23-year-old has been forced to watch on in agony with the side managing just three wins in the 12 weeks he has been sidelined. Beginning the year in fine form with four tries, seven try-assists and 156 metres on average, Trbojevic will have an additional point to prove as he fights to retain his place in the NSW Origin team.
Fighting for a new contract after spending the past month on the sidelines through suspension, veteran forward Kevin Proctor will be out to prove he still has what it takes to make an impact in the NRL. Controversially sent off for biting Kiwi teammate Shaun Johnson a month ago against the Sharks, the 31-year-old second-rower has returned to form under the coaching of Justin Holbrook this season with 32 tackles and 76 metres each week. Set to attract interest from rival clubs given his experience as a premiership-winning international, the Titans can expect plenty of energy from Proctor as he looks to play his part in the side's strong finish to the year.
The favourite: Winning 14 of 18 matches with Tom Trbojevic at the back over the past two seasons, the Sea Eagles are expected to soar in the likely event the superstar fullback is back on deck.
My tip: Gaining plenty of confidence with wins in their past three matches, the 12th-placed Titans are primed to cause an upset against the 10th-placed Sea Eagles. Titans by 7.
21. Tom Trbojevic 1. Tevita Funa 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 2. Albert Hopoate 6. Lachlan Croker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 14. Morgan Boyle 9. Danny Levi 10. Martin Taupau 11. Jack Gosiewski 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 5. Abbas Miski 15. Corey Waddell 16. Sean Keppie 17. Taniela Paseka
1. Alexander Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Treymain Spry 4. Young Tonumaipea 5. Corey Thompson 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Sam Stone 13. Tyrone Peachey 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Jai Arrow 16. Sam Lisone 17. Jai Whitbread
Referees: Matt Noyen; Sideline Officials: Liam Kennedy, Gavin Badger; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell;