The Bulldogs turned in another clinically fine performance at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, overcoming a very good side in the Gold Coast Titans in a thrilling affair in front of a near-capacity crowd.
John Cartwright has some good players playing well, and won't be too disheartened by his players' efforts. Their defence up the middle was found out on occasion, but they were good enough and composed enough to give the ’Dogs some curry late.
The ’Dogs for the first 65 minutes looked like stand-out competition favourites. They run hard and straight, have some real fire-power out wide, and do a lot of little things well a lot of the time. Kevin Moore has ’em singing. The last 15 minutes the Titans came back at them but they’d done plenty and had a big buffer.
The Game Swung When… With his team up 10-nil in the 30th minute Josh Morris ran onto a grubber and wrestled his way over for his second try. Hazem El Masri’s boringly brilliant conversion from the sideline put the ’Dogs up 16-blot and there looked to be only one team in it.
The Titans came back with the first of Mat Rogers’ tries but in the 64th minute El Masri crossed after some bullocking work by Jamal Idris and a beautiful inside ball by Daniel Holdsworth. When El Masri converted it was 22-6.
From there the Bulldogs threw it around and had a bit of fun. But the Titans didn’t give up and tries to Rogers and the impressive speedster Kevin Gordon made it interesting. But the ’Dogs held on, Brett Kimmorley’s 79th-minute field-goal the nail in the coffin that broke the camel’s back.
Who Was Hot… Luke Patten had a fine fullback’s game. He ran with penetration, took bombs, defused kicks, set up tries and saved them. Jamal Idris ran like a Clydesdale with the pace of Octagonal down the right-hand side and scored a fine try. Ben Roberts was dynamic, Michael Ennis kept them guessing with sniping runs (great effort two days after an Origin) and Josh Morris scored two tries with pace and athleticism. One day it would be good to see who is quicker over 100 metres, he or brother Brett.
Brett Kimmorley’s kicking game was typically excellent.
For the Titans, Mat Rogers scored a couple of fine tries, kicked well (he’s got a long, driving drop punt) and turned on some nice touches for his team. Fellow veteran Preston Campbell did a lot of nice work from fullback, Luke Bailey bashed it up the middle like a bullock with hands rather than hooves (16 runs, 115 metres, 31 tackles) and big centre Brett Delaney made 170 metres. Gordon ran for 177 metres. They’ve got a couple of good young wingers, the Titans, on the other flank is David Mead of PNG who is another One To Watch.
Who Was Not... The Titans’ defence up the middle was found out a time or two, they’ll have to fix that before they meet these Bulldogs again.
Scott Prince and his fellow creatives in the backline needed to get more repeat sets with their kicking.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… The Titans and Bulldogs ran on after the Bunnies had dusted the Broncos. Good idea, the double header. On Saturdays they could think of a 4:30pm game followed by a 6:30pm for a day-night effect (though the television gods might not deem it advertising prime time) or even a Sunday arvo that starts at 2pm and finishes at 6pm. Food for thought.
In the 15th minute Preston Campbell, who could have been Octagonal’s jockey, took a Roberts’ grubber on the fly and ran straight into Roberts and Morris, perhaps believing for a moment he was Mark Carroll rather than 61kg of arms and legs in headgear.
Later Campbell side-stepped around Ennis in the in-goal by using the goal post as a shepherd.
Bulldogs’ fullback Luke Patten pulled off a brilliant try-saver when he denied Brett Delaney after the big centre caught a bomb and looked certain to score. Great work from a super fullback.
Brad Meyers, with his wild Irish beard and huge frame, looks like a statue of Ned Kelly come to life. Playing good footy, too, the giant ginga.
Rookie wing David Mead pulled off an interesting play as he was about to be taken into touch by giving the ball to tackler Luke Patton. Not sure how the Bulldogs got the scrum feed but there you go.
William Zillman did amazingly well to surge back into the field of play following a fine kick by Kimmorley and the attentions of three big ’Dogs.
Brilliant work by Gordon in the 70th minute: he took a good pass from Rogers, grubbered around Idris and put on a massive left-foot step that had Patten clutching at so many straws.
Rogers’ second try saw some great work again from Gordon to bat the ball back infield where Rogers took it and beat Idris. With three Bulldogs looking to barrel him into touch, Rogers glanced in-field for support, which was enough for all three for his chasers to swallow the “dummy” and not tackle Rogers who scored in the corner.
Bad Boys… ’Dogs wing Matthew Utai dumped Delaney on his head in the 60th minute; he was placed on report and later charged. But he’ll escape suspension with an early guilty plea.
Refs Watch… A very good game from the officials bar one patently wrong decision by Ben Cummins. Titan Will Matthews played the ball while on his feet but was penalised for not playing the ball on his feet. The decision came with the Titans one metre out and eight minutes to go.
NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – Luke Patton (Bulldogs): Made tries through electric running, saved tries through defensive nous. Top fullback; 2 points – Jamal Idris (Bulldogs): A giant fast centre with a big impact; 1 point – Michael Ennis (Bulldogs): Sniping attack and rugged defence.
Bulldogs 23 (J Morris 2, J Idris, H El Masri tries; H El Masri 3 goals; B Kimmorley field-goal) def Titans 16 (M Rogers 2, K Gordon tries; S Prince 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 50,109.