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2021 NRL Round 20, Titans 34 Bulldogs 6 – Report

Julian Vella reviews the Canterbury Bulldogs and Gold Coast Titans. Here’s how the game went.

SCOREBOARD

Bulldogs 6

Tries: Bailey Biondi-Odo (72)

Goals: Kyle Flanagan (73)

Titans 34

Tries: Brian Kelly (36, 68) Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (14), Esan Marsters (33), Greg Marzhew (52), Ash Taylor (60)

Goals: Toby Sexton (15, 37, 53, 62, 70)

Player of the Year Points

3 pts – AJ Brimson (Titans)
2 pts – Toby Sexton (Titans)
1 pt – Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Titans)

MATCH REPORT

1st Half

The Gold Coast Titans headed into this rescheduled match on Monday night against the Canterbury Bulldogs knowing a win would likely leave them settled in the top 8 for the first time since Round 11. For the Bulldogs, they were desperate for a win after falling further behind the Broncos in the race to avoid the wooden spoon.

After both sides started well, it was the Titans who scored first after 14 minutes through Tino Fa’asuamaleaui who barged over from close range, after a good break from Esan Marsters got the Titans into the Bulldogs red zone. Marsters brushed past a poor attempt of tackle from Kyle Flanagan who was making his return to the side after a long absence due to poor form.

Neither side could spark any play to lead to more points as the game formed into a grind. Titans’ coach Justin Holbrook then introduced his lethal weapon and most expensive player in David Fifita, who was again relegated to the bench. After a few bright touches early on, Fifita got on the end of some good lead up play and found himself within 10 metres of the try-line. A last ditched tackle brought Fifita down short, before he promoted the ball over the line to be called back for double movement. This however was a warning shot of what the Queensland Representative was capable of.

As it looked like the Bulldogs were going to get to halftime without conceding more points, a break from Moeaki Fotuaika after a nice short ball from his front row partner Sam Lisone, led to a try to Marsters out wide. The conversion attempt was missed by Sexton to leave the score at 10-0.

If that try left Bulldogs’ coach Trent Barrett frustrated, you could imagine how he felt after the Titans scored again just three minutes later as Brian Kelly chased down a neat Ash Taylor grubber kick to score. Sexton found his range on this attempt to put the Titans up 16-0.

HALF-TIME: Gold Coast Titans 16 – 0 Canterbury Bulldogs

2nd Half

The second half started without much excitement as both sides got back into a grinding pattern. Whilst the Bulldogs found themselves in good field position, their spluttering attack continued to look disjointed and in turn, produced no points.

It was no surprise then when the Titans opened the scoring in the second half through stocky winger Greg Marzhew. The Titans put up a bomb through Toby Sexton which was challenged by Marsters. As the ball bounced back it was Marzhew found himself with the ball and an open run to the line.

As the Bulldogs continued to threaten to score (yet ultimately fail to do so), the Titans continued to rub salt into their wounds, as they extended their lead with a simple try to Taylor. The Titans’ five-eighth got the ball from dummy half and threw a lovely pass to star fullback AJ Brimson, who drew his opposition number before passing back to Taylor who scored under the posts.

With the game already wrapped up with the score at 28-0 the Titans decided to start pulling out the party tricks.

Veteran prop Jarrod Wallace who isn’t known for his offloads or flamboyant plays, produced an outstanding ‘around the corner’ offload to Brian Kelly, that would have made Arthur Beetson proud. Sexton then converted from the sideline to further the score line to 34-0.

The Bulldogs were facing unwanted history with the prospect of being scoreless for the fifth time this season, but a late try to young utility player Bailey Biondi-Odo finally had the Blue and White on the board. It was nice lead up play by five-eighth Jake Averillo to lead to a break by second rower Corey Waddell. It was too little too late as the Bulldogs succumbed to another heavy defeat leaving their chances of avoiding the wooden spoon, as slim at best.

For the Titans – they’ll have harder hurdles to face on the run home to the finals, but for now they’ve won three of their last four and find themselves in seventh position.

There’s a long way to go in this season but the Titans will be starting to believe that finals football is a real possibility in 2021.

FULL-TIME: Gold Coast Titans 34 – 6 Canterbury Bulldogs

Injuries

to be advised

Match Review Committee

to be advised

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