NRL Match Preview: Key match-ups v Titans
Wests Tigers vs Gold Coast Titans
HEAD TO HEAD: Played 10 Gold Coast 5, Wests Tigers 5
AT SKILLED PARK: Played 5 Gold Coast 3, Wests Tigers 2
LAST TIME: 2012 - Wests Tigers 15 defeated Gold Coast 14 at Skilled Park
BIGGEST HEAD TO HEAD WINS: Wests Tigers 39 defeated Gold Coast 10 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, 2011.
Gold Coast 30 defeated Wests Tigers 14 at Gold Coast Stadium, 2007.
Liam Fulton v Mark Minichiello
Experienced campaigners Liam Fulton and Mark Minichiello will face off this week at Skilled Park, with both players having key leadership roles in their respective forward packs.
Playing his 150th game last weekend against Manly, Fulton racked up an impressive 36 tackles, which is on par with his average for 2013. Fultons kicking game has come into play in recent weeks, with well-weighted grubbers catching the opposition defence by surprise. Fulton will travel to Skilled Park for the third time in his career, with the utility looking to keep his 100% winning record (two from two) in tact.
Minichiello had a solid game last week against South Sydney, making 27 tackles and nine hit-ups for 72 metres in the 32-4 loss. With 232 NRL games under his belt, Minichiello is part of a formidable Titans forward pack that includes Greg Bird, Nate Myles and Luke Douglas. Minichiello is expected to be included in the Italy side travelling to the World Cup later this year, along with his brother Anthony and other big names such as Craig Gower.
David Nofoaluma v Kevin Gordon
It would not be surprising to see the name of either David Nofoaluma or Kevin Gordon on the try-scorers list following this match, with 18 tries between the pair in 2013.
Scoring what is being called the Try of the decade last week against Manly, Nofoaluma continues to go from strength to strength in his debut season. Nofoalumas impressive form has amazingly kept regular first graders Marika Koroibete and Matt Utai in NSW Cup. The rookie wingers most impressive stat is his tackle busts, with 53 in just nine games (average of 5.9 per game). Facing off against Manu Vatuvei and Jorge Taufua in the past fortnight, Nofoaluma faces another tough task coming up against Titans danger man Gordon.
Gordon scored the Titans only points last week against the top of the table Rabbitohs, with the speedy winger having a knack for getting over the line. With 46 tries in his 88 game NRL career, Gordon leads the way in the try-scoring tally for the Titans in 2013 with eleven four-pointers. With an average of 108 metres per game, Gordons match-up with Nofoaluma is one not to be missed.
James Tedesco v David Mead
The battle of the fullbacks shapes up to be an interesting one this week, with the in-form James Tedesco coming up against David Mead who moves into the number one role for the Titans.
Consistency has been a highlight of Tedescos game in 2013, with the Wests Tigers fullback averaging 107 metres per game. His successful return from a knee reconstruction was highlighted by his representative debut for City earlier in the year. With just 14 NRL games to his name, Tedesco will face the Titans for the first time in his career. The kicking game of the Gold Coast has been substantially weakened with the loss of Albert Kelly to injury; so look out for Tedesco to make a big impact with his evasive kick returns.
Making his debut back in 2009, Mead has developed into one of the most exciting players in the NRL. However, during Meads 89 game career, only once has he started at fullback. Jordan Rankin has been the Titans fullback for the majority of 2013 but will miss this weeks game. With the Gold Coast on a four-game losing streak, coach John Cartwright has made a few notable changes including that of Mead and Ashley Harrison moving to five-eighth. Another player likely to appear in the end of season World Cup, Mead will be hoping to pull on the Papua New Guinea jersey in the end of year tournament.