Many felt that without Scott Prince running the show, the Titans would be rudderless – but Mat Rogers warmed to the task and the elusive Preston Campbell chimed in to guide their side home.
For the Bulldogs, it was a chance to let off steam after the interchange fiasco from last week – that is set to cost them two points. But it seemed like the Bulldogs ran out of steam, forced to do plenty of defensive work.
Stand-in half Presston Campbell was heavily involved most of the night, the little no.7 laying on a try and touching down himself for another, his partner Mat Rogers took a while to get into the game – but once he did, he remained a handful for the Bulldogs defence.
After a see-sawing first period, the Bulldogs made things harder for themselves after turning over possession through poor discipline and simple errors. The resulting defensive workload eventually taking its toll and their 50+ more tackles required made it impossible to chase down the Titans.
After an early arm-wrestle, it was the Dogs who got over the line first – scoring after the 20 minute mark through Andrew Ryan. The Bulldogs skipper pulling off a nice hit and spin to drag several Titans defenders over the line, the try making the Gold Coast look very ordinary on their line.
If it was a worrying sign, it only lasted 10 miuntes. The Titans put themselves in good field position soon after – Presto launching up a high bomb and after a scramble in the Bulldogs in-goal, it was Gold Coast interchange player Luke O’Dwyer who was there to touch down on the loose ball.
While more good luck than good management, it was a crucial try to the Titans so early. The Bulldogs were looking expansive, and choosing to employing plenty of off-loads. Had the Titans not been next to score, the Doggies may have skipped away.
Further confidence came the Titans way soon after, with Presto again involved. This time the little half doing it alone, to score himself and putting his team in the lead 10-4.
This is when the droppsies set in for the Bulldogs. They remained intent on offloads, and another dropped ball led to the Mat Rogers try, the veteran cruising over from short range.
At 14-6 the Titans were looking to have things sewn up with just over 20 minutes remaining, especially considering the Bulldogs looked tired from a stack of defence.
But a try to Dogs winger Bryson Goodwin late in the match sparked them to attention. The Dogs were in striking distance. The Canterbury side having several other chances soon after, including a penalty right in front – but they were unable to take the opportunities.
Once the Gold Coast got to an 8 point lead in the 63rd minute through Esi Tonga’s try – it was always going to be hardwork for the Dogs.
To their credit they kept chipping away almost scoring in the left corner just under 10 minutes left but they were pulled up for a forward pass by the touch judge, instantly crushing any hope of a miracle comeback.
The Titans must be given credit for their committed defence late in the game. With several of their players still so young, they showed maturity beyond their years to hold out the Bulldogs for several long periods.
Young Esi Tonga and Kevin Gordon both had strong games for the Titans, and the returning Chris Walker while not heavily involved had enough touches to get himself some confidence for the weeks ahead.
Coach Cartwright was happy with his troops, more so that they did it without playmaker Scott Prince, the coach believing that Prince would be right for next weeks match against the Storm.
“Our attitude was tremendous,” Cartwright confirmed.
“We looked a little disjointed at times but I think overall it was a good effort.”
For the Dogs, skipper Andrew Ryan wasn’t using their interchange bungle as any excuse for not having the mind on the job.
“We got together early in the week and said it’s out of our control,” Ryan confirmed.
“After that, at no stage did we talk about it, or think of using it as an excuse.”
New coach Kevin Moore felt the same as Ryan.
“It’s out of our control. We will let that appeal play itself out.”
The win by the Titans tonight highlighted the increased speed of the game, minor errors and ill-discipline cost the Bulldogs dearly and any amount of additional defence this season is being amplified 2 fold with the faster pace.