A team that has finished top eight every year since 2012 come up against a side that hasn’t played finals football since 2010: and yet it’s the latter team who have won four out of the past five clashes when they have met. The Bulldogs have had some trouble putting away the Titans, and while they were strong the last time they met, trumping Gold Coast 36-14, four meetings before that were all Titan victories.

LAST TIME OUT

The Bulldogs were surprised by a Shaun Johnson masterclass, one of those days where everything aligned for the New Zealand Warriors – passes stuck and forwards ran hard, contributing to a 20-24 win to the Warriors. Their record over the past six weeks reads WLWLWL, inconsistency plaguing their form.

The Titans on the other hand had the unhappy honour of conceding to the Dragons for the very first time in just over two rounds – 171 minutes without a point was broken when Gareth Widdop crossed for the Red V, the boot of Widdop helping the Dragons to win 14-19 at Cbus Super Stadium last Saturday.

KEY BATTLE

Bulldogs fans would have previously been overjoyed to see the speedy Nene McDonald and David Mead marked by Josh Morris, who was a noted defensive powerhouse: lately that has not been the case for the blue and whites, with three of the five Warriors tries on Saturday coming through the defensive combination of Mbye-Morris-Rona. If Mead and McDonald exploit this and capitalise on Morris’ lack of the punishing defense of old, more points could flow down that channel.

PREDICTION

Skeletons hiding in the Bulldogs closet against the Titans appeared to have been cleaned out last time they came up against each other, and without that surprise factor it’s hard to go past Canterbury: questions over the fitness of in-form half Ash Taylor only serve to disadvantage the Titans further, and it would not be thinking long term to rush him back and risk further head injury or concussion.

Bulldogs by 8.

SQUADS

Bulldogs: 1 William Hopoate 2 Curtis Rona 3 Josh Morris 4 Kerrod Holland 5 Sam Perrett 6 Josh Reynolds 7 Moses Mbye 8 Aiden Tolman 9 Michael Lichaa 10 James Graham 11 Joshua Jackson 12 Tony Williams 13 Greg Eastwood. Interchange: 14 Sam Kasiano 15 Tim Browne 16 David Klemmer 17 Adam Elliott 19 Lloyd Perrett 21 Craig Garvey.

Titans: 1 William Zillman, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Josh Hoffman, 4 Nene MacDonald, 5 David Mead, 6 Tyrone Roberts, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 David Shillington, 9 Nathan Friend, 10 Ryan James, 11 John Zebelon Taia, 12 Chris McQueen, 13 Greg Bird. Interchange: 14 Luke Douglas, 15 Leivaha Pulu, 16 Agnatius Paasi, 17 Kierran Moseley, 18 Eddy Pettybourne.