After having reached the finals last season, both Canterbury and Gold Coast have endured disappointing 2017 campaigns. There will only be pride on the line when the two teams meet at the Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Titans will welcome the opportunity to let their football do the talking after the last fortnight of upheaval. The Bulldogs have experienced their own coaching speculation this year, another reason why Des Hasler will be hungry for victory.
Canterbury have triumphed in the last two meetings between the two teams having ended a four-game rut against the Titans in 2015. However, the Bulldogs haven’t tasted victory north of the tweed since 2012.
The Facts that Matter
Gold Coast Titans
The Titans will hope that the addition of Jarryd Hayne can add some bite to their attack. They have relied heavily on the boot of Ash Taylor to create scoring opportunities. As a result, the 22-year-old is in the top three for try assists in 2017. They struggled to convert pressure into points against Parramatta last week with the first try coming off the back of 28 successive tackles in their opponents half.
Ranked 16th in the league for defence, the Titans have conceded 126 points in their last three outings. Their struggles in defence are perhaps best illustrated by the last 26 minutes of their clash with the Eels. The Titans had almost exclusive possession of the ball during this period, having 13 sets to their opponents four, yet were outscored 12-8, with the Eels having two other tries disallowed in this time too.
Injury to captain Ryan James means that Nathan Peats will assume leadership duties against the Bulldogs. Peats is a passionate player who wears his heart on his sleeve and will no be looking to lead by example.
The Bulldogs ended a four-game losing streak when they dismantled Manly last weekend. Will Hopoate had his best game of the season as he laid on three tries for teammates in the first half. Coach Hasler must also have been happy with his late decision to pair Matt Frawley and Moses Mbye in the halves, with the duo set to continue their partnership again this week.
The attacking combinations on show against Manly were a pleasant surprise for Bulldogs fans, who have seen their team starved of points throughout 2017. Ranked 16th in attack this year, it was the first time the Bulldogs had scored more than 30 points all season.
But the six-try performance last week will fill the Bulldogs with confidence when they step out against the Titans. Against the competition’s leakiest defence, they will fancy their chances to build another healthy score this week.
The Titans were spirited against good opposition last weekend despite the off-field distractions. Will they be able to produce a similar effort after the turmoil continuing into this week?
The Bulldogs will also be hoping to replicate their efforts of last week but they have struggled away from home this year. They only have one victory on the road all season and this might be the decisive factor between two sides that appear difficult to separate. Titans to win by 2 points.
Who do you think will come out on top in this one, the Titans or the Bulldogs? Let us know in the comments and poll below.
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