Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
After years of obscurity, the Gold Coast Titans will head into the 2021 NRL season with serious expectations.
It’s hard to believe that just two years after the worst campaign in the club’s history the Titans are favourites to make the top eight.
They are undoubtedly a team to watch this season, and here are the five games featuring the Gold Coast that you must watch in 2021.
ROUND 1 – NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Punters do not seem to be as confident in the Warriors as they are in the Titans this year; although, there is still some hype around the team across the Tasman.
Both clubs just missed the finals last season and have recruited very well heading into 2021.
These two reinvigorated outfits will kick off their respective campaigns against each other, and the best way for new teammates to gel is through winning so it will be crucial to claim victory in this game.
When looking at their recent meetings, two of the past three Titans and Warriors matchups have been decided by just four points.
ROUND 2 – BRISBANE BRONCOS
In a rare occurrence, the Broncos and Titans big brother/little brother dynamic was flipped on its head in 2020, with the Gold Coast winning both fixtures between the clubs and Brisbane finishing last on the ladder.
The Titans have also signed one of the Broncos’ brightest stars in David Fifita, with the Broncos signing former Titans Albert Kelly, David Mead and Dale Copely.
For the first time in a long time, the local derby storyline will not be the only reason to watch this game.
— Gold Coast Titans (@GCTitans) February 3, 2021
ROUND 5 – NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Last year the Gold Coast stunned Newcastle in the final round of the 2020 regular season, beating the finals bound side 36-6 and arguably derailing the Knights confidence heading into their first postseason run since 2013.
As the Titans are favourites to make the finals next year and the Knights tipped to miss out, this will be a very interesting game, with the Gold Coast looking to dominate a reigning finals side as they look to make the top eight for the first time since 2016, and Newcastle seeking revenge for last season’s thrashing.
ROUND 10 – PENRITH PANTHERS
At the time of writing, the Penrith Panthers are the bookies favourite to win the premiership in 2021 and are coming off of a historic campaign.
If the Titans are the real deal this year as several people are predicting, they will have to be able to hang with the big boys of our competition.
Victory for the Gold Coast in this one would be making a huge statement and put every other club on notice.
This was shockingly nearly the case last time we saw this fixture, with the Panthers managing an eight-point win in a close encounter during Penrith’s seventeen game winning streak.
ROUND 18 – PARRAMATTA EELS
Following a top-four finish in 2020, Parramatta is tipped to once again make the top eight this year; however, many people believe they will be making up the numbers.
On the other hand, the Titans are displaying promise and are being hyped for a finals push in 2021, which makes this game an interesting watch.
While the two sides are looking like they will finish very close to each other on the ladder, the reasons as to how they will get there are very different, with the Eels viewed as being on the decline and the Titans seen as a team on the rise.
By this point in the season, victory could mean a home final for the winner and a loss of momentum heading into the postseason for the loser.