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2021 NRL Round 11 Preview, Titans Vs Bulldogs

Andrew Pelechaty previews the Saturday afternoon clash between the Gold Coast and Canterbury-Bankstown. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast, Date: Saturday May 22, Time: 3pm

Titans Team

1. AJ Brimson
2. Anthony Don
3. Brian Kelly
4. Esan Marsters
5. Phillip Sami
6. Tanah Boyd
7. Jamal Fogarty
8. Jarrod Wallace
9. Mitch Rein
10. Moeaki Fotuaika
11. Kevin Proctor
12. Beau Fermor
13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14. Erin Clark
15. Sam Stone
16. Jaimin Jolliffe
17. Sam McIntyre
18. Jai Whitbread
19. Jayden Campbell
20. Toby Sexton
21. Ashley Taylor

Team Changes

IN: Ashley Taylor
Erin Clark
Jai Whitbread
Jayden Campbell
Toby Sexton


OUT: Herman Ese’ese
Tyrone Peachey

Bulldogs Team

1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
2. Nick Cotric
3. Will Hopoate
4. Aaron Schoupp
5. Nick Meaney
6. Brandon Wakeham
7. Jake Avarillo
8. Ava Seumanufagai
9. Sione Katoa
10. Luke Thompson
11. Matt Doorey
12. Chris Smith
13. Renouf Atoni
14. Bradley Deitz
15. Corey Waddell
16. Adam Elliott
17. Dylan Napa
19. Tuipulotu Katoa
20. Joe Stimson
21. Kyle Flanagan
23. Ofahiki Ogden

Team Changes

IN: Aaron Schoupp
Dylan Napa
Kyle Flanagan


OUT:

Referee: Matt Cecchin

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Titans

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Favoured to play finals after a massive off-season spending spree, the Titans are coming to the pack following a promising start to the season.

Looking on top of the world after belting Newcastle in round five, the Titans have won just one of their last five: this includes three straight losses to Manly-Warringah (36-0), South Sydney (surrendering a 24-10 half-time lead to lose 40-30), and Brisbane (losing 36-28 after leading 22-0); they also had a heavy Magic Round loss to Penrith (48-12).

Consequently, the Titans have dropped out of the eight, joining the congested 4-6 pack of Canberra, the NZ Warriors, Newcastle, and North Queensland. At least they have the second best points differential out of this group. The worrying part is their leaky defence, conceding at least 30 points in these four losses; they even conceded 28 in their win over the Wests Tigers.

Unfortunately, they’re still missing David Fifita, who’s serving a two-match suspension, as well as Herman Ese’ese and Tyrone Peachey, who are also serving suspensions following Magic Round.

Bulldogs

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It’s been the same old depressing story for the Bulldogs: while they have plenty of heart, they lack the points-scoring ability/defence/composure/experience etc to actually win. While we’re not even halfway through the season, the wooden spoon seems almost guaranteed.

Canterbury-Bankstown should have beaten Canberra considering the bizarre circumstances: tries to former Raider Nick Cotric and Nick Meaney gave the Bulldogs a 12-8 lead in the second half (after trailing 8-0 at half-time); meanwhile, The Milk (known for their dramatic second half collapses this season) were briefly reduced to 11 men after losing Josh Papalii (sent off) and Jack Wighton (sin bin). Somehow, Canberra reclaimed the lead with tries to Curtis Scott and Sebastian Kris. While Dallin Watene-Zelezniak closed the gap with a 79th minute try, the Bulldogs still lost 20-18.

PREVIEW

The big question: which side has the fortitude to rebound first after demoralising losses?

With the Raiders facing a tough game against Melbourne on Saturday night, the Titans can re-enter the eight – and probably stay there – by beating the Bulldogs by four points or more. While they’ve conceded a lot of points recently, they’re also averaging 23 points/game; the Bulldogs (300 points conceded) have the competition’s worst defensive record.

If the Titans can quickly string together some tries, it should be enough. However, if the Bulldogs can engage the Titans in a low-scoring grind, they might just sneak a surprise win. Maybe.

KEY STAT

The head-to-head is nine wins each since 2007. The Titans have won two of the last three: 18-14 in 2020 and 32-10 in 2018. The Bulldogs won the 2019 clash 22-16.

PREDICTION

If the Titans want to fulfill their early-season promise and make the eight, they must win this game! Even without Fifita, they have enough talent to easily beat the struggling Bulldogs.

Titans by 20.

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