Dogs hit top gear to topple Titans
The Bulldogs, led by the ball-playing prowess of Sam Kasiano, have prevailed 36-14 over the Titans, recording their first win against Gold Coast in New South Wales since 2007.
Breaking a four-game losing streak against the Titans on top of that, the Bulldogs overcame an ankle injury to hooker Michael Lichaa within the first five minutes to consolidate a spot in the top eight after 23 rounds as Brett Morris, Curtis Rona and Greg Eastwood all scored doubles.
Following the match, Canterbury-Bankstown coach Des Hasler said his side was guilty of handing the Titans too many attacking opportunities.
"We made it harder than it needed to be. I think probably losing young Michael Lichaa early probably put us out of our rhythm a little bit but we were guilty of going a little to sideways and tried to force passes and offloads which brings an opposition back into a contest," Hasler said.
"The Titans are a good young side who have a ton of speed so when we gave them good field possession they responded but we managed to score some points in the second half which was crucial because of how close the competition is."
Up 16-4 at the time Titans linchpin Aidan Sezer went up the tunnel injured after 55 minutes, the Bulldogs were able to score 20 points in the final quarter of the game with Kasiano's two try assists ultimately pushing his team to break away from the Titans.
It looked to be the Bulldogs' game from the get-go as the Titans made multiple errors at the wrong opportunities – including two clangers from skipper Greg Bird – with the eventual victors scoring first through Morris in the 14th minute.
The Bulldogs were at it again in the 26th minute when Titans centre James Roberts intercepted the ball just inches in from the sideline and threw it back inside for Bulldogs winger Rona to intercept it back and score his 18th try of the year.
The Titans pegged one back in the 32nd minute to ensure a 12-4 half-time scoreline when Sezer sent a deft long-distance grubber towards Kalifa Faifai Loa's corner for the flying winger to score his first try of the year, in his 50th NRL game.
After a cagey opening 15 minutes to the second stanza, the Bulldogs finally chanced their arm in the 55th minute to extend their lead to 12 after a Trent Hodkinson grubber allowed lock Eastwood to score his first try of the season.
Losing Sezer after he copped a huge hit from Kasiano, the Titans looked to kick on when centre Roberts motored his way over the try line – running 25 metres and beating plenty along the way – to equal the club record for the most tries scored in the season for the club (16).
However, Morris's second of the night in the 64th minute, thanks to a Kasiano inside ball proved the catalyst for the victory.
From there, Rona was able to score his second of the game three minutes later thanks to Kasiano again who kept a backline movement alive for the winger to score, with Rona once again becoming the equal-leading try-scorer in the NRL.
Keeping the trend alive was Eastwood who scored his second of the game in the 69th minute when he finished off Sam Perrett and Tim Lafai's hard work.
David Klemmer's try two minutes from time capped off the Bulldogs victory, though Faifai Loa would score his second just seconds before the full-time siren.
Of concern, Titans back-rower Agnatius Paasi was placed on report midway through the first half after taking out an airborne Morris as he caught a towering Sezer bomb.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 36 (Brett Morris, Curtis Rona, Greg Eastwood 2, David Klemmer Tries; Trent Hodkinson 4 Goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 14 (Kalifa Faifai Loa 2, James Roberts Try; Greg Bird 1 Goal) at Central Coast Stadium. Crowd: 11,021. Half-time: Bulldogs 12-4. On Report: Agnatius Paasi (Titans).