Bulldogs v Titans preview

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Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Gold Coast Titans Saturday 3:00pm at Stadium Australia

Bulldogs look to release the anchor to the bottom of the ladder against much improved Titans

If we're being fair-dinkum, neither of these two siders were expected to pose much of a premiership threat in 2020, and in that respect, they haven't wavered from the status quo. To then say that this season has been a complete write off for both of them would simply be a falsity. 

While the Bulldogs may have looked to build off a strong finish to 2019 and perhaps even push for an unlikely finals berth this year, it just hasn't gone to plan for the Canterbury boys. Having only won the two games so far, against fellow strugglers the Dragons and an upset over Newcastle, many of the men in blue and white are probably counting down the days until mad Monday.  Last Sunday evening was an accurate summation of their season. They lead the Raiders 20-12 at the break before capitulating and eventually going down by 14. It was an all too familiar scene for Bulldogs fans, having surrendered a lead in similar fashion the week before. The effort is there, just never for the full 80 minutes required to win games in the NRL.

It's been the opposite for the Titans, who with 5 wins so far this year have already surpassed the total for what was a disastrous 2019 campaign. It may have taken a couple of months, but rookie NRL coach Justin Holbrook is finally getting his fingerprints over the team's performances and is showing some of what made him a premiership winning coach in the Super League.  The new attitude of the Titans was there for all to see last Friday. Despite only having 45% of possession against a Dragons side completing at 91%, the Gold Coast were able to fight back from 10-4 down to steal it in the final 10 minutes courtesy of two quick tries to Tyrone Peachey and Jamal Fogarty. Fans will be hoping for a similar effort on Saturday as the Titans look to win back to back games for the first time since Rounds 5 and 6 of 2019. 

In team news, Jake Averillo and Luke Thompson are back for the Bulldogs after being rested in Round 16. They make their respective returns via the interchange and force Sione Katoa and Dean Britt out of the 21-man squad altogether.  The only change for the Titans is prop forward Moeaki Fotuaika returning from a weeklong suspension via the interchange, with Holbrook opting to start Tyrone Peachey at lock for the second week in a row. This change sees Jai Whitbread pushed back to the reserves.

Last meeting: Round 10 2019 - Titans 16 Bulldogs 22

Who to watch: In what's been a dismal season for the Bulldogs, it has been great to see Kieran Foran not only stringing a few games together but playing a good standard of footy in the process. It is perhaps bitter-sweet for Bulldogs fans given he hasn't been offered a contract for next year, but until then you can be sure that Foran will run out and do whatever the team needs him to do, be it make a tackle on a forward double his size or put in a pinpoint kick for one of his outside backs to score. He will be critical in trying to steer the Dogs home on Saturday

From one half to another, Jamal Fogarty has been a revelation for the Titans. After getting a taste of NRL in 2017, from then on Fogarty found a home in the Queensland cup, even winning the competitions player of the year in 2019. His strong form in reserve grade earned him a chance in the NRL with the Titans and he has grabbed it with both hands, even being named captain in the absence of Kevin Proctor and Jai Arrow. At 26, Fogarty has found NRL later than most, but has proved integral to the Titans this year and moving forward. 

The favourite: What started out as an even match with the punters has now seen some slight favouritism towards the Gold Coast Titans to make it two in a row.

My tip: This could well be the closest game of the round. The Bulldogs have shown that they have the effort to score points and defend mistakes but have ran into some problems trying to do so over 80 minutes. While the Titans are at least a year away from being a quality outfit capable of playing finals, they have shown more than the Dogs this year and I'll be tipping as such. Titans by 8.

1. Will Hopoate 2. Nick Meaney 3. Marcelo Montoya 4. Kerrod Holland 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Kieran Foran 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Ofahiki Ogden 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Aiden Tolman 14. Jake Averillo 15. Renouf To'omaga 16. Matt Doorey 17. Luke Thompson

1. Alexander Brimson 2. Corey Thompson 3. Brian Kelly 4. Young Tonumaipea 20. Anthony Don 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Jaimin Jolliffe 11. Sam Stone 12. Beau Fermor 13. Tyrone Peachey 14. Erin Clark 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 17. Sam Lisone 19. Jai Arrow

Referees: Chris Sutton; Sideline Officials: Liam Kennedy, Drew Oultram; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Beau Scott;

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