A two-try effort to centre James Roberts has helped guide the Gold Coast Titans to a 28-14 victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in front of a crowd of 10,645 at Cbus Super Stadium tonight.
It was a much-needed victory at home, just the third in the past 16 matches at Robina and it will temporarily at least put the Titans into the top eight.
Along with Roberts’ double, a standout for the Titans was pivot Aidan Sezer who produced a man-of-the-match performance playing a hand in three of the Titans’ five tries, kick four goals and produce a first-half 40-20 which allowed his side to score a miracle try after the half-time buzzer to go into the half-time break at 10-all.
The Titans started the second-half with all of the momentum and posted back-to-back tries to race to a 22-10 lead before Roberts scored his second try of the night in the 76th minute to secure the 28-14 win which sees the Titans shoot up to sixth on the competition ladder.
Coach Neil Henry said he was happy with the side’s ability to control the ball throughout the contest to notch up back-to-back wins.
“It was an entertaining game, both sides chanced their arm a little bit but also the completions rates were pretty good as well,” Henry said.
“It was one of those games where you couldn’t really rest in defence, there were a few offloads there and they’re a hard team to contain.
“The 40-20 to get the result right on half-time to come in at 10-all was a real boost for us. It had been a bit of a grind until then, the completion rate had been okay but they’re a physical team and it takes a lot of effort to get them onto the ground and lock the ball up.
“To the boys' credit there were a couple of tough sets on our line where we had to defend because we made an error after getting points but we were able to defend that which was crucial.
“I think our support around the ball was pretty good which was something we needed to do against this team was.
“It’s good to get that win done and in the end be reasonable comfortable at the back end of the game which was fantastic but every week is a new battle.”
Henry also praised Roberts’ ability to back his ability to score two crucial tries but said it is the forwards who are laying the platform for his outside backs.
“It was one of those plays where he (Roberts) backed himself and went through, good on him for backing himself when he saw the opportunity. He can certainly sniff out a try. He took off and got involved in the match.
“It’s our forwards, the style they’re playing we are moving teams around a little bit and they need to be able to do that. Our hookers have been playing forward on the back of that and we have a bit of speed with our outside backs and we are able to utilise a bit of space given what our forwards do.”
Stand-in skipper Ryan James said it was great to notch up a win in front of a strong supportive home fan base.
“The win at home is good, the crowd needed the win and we needed and now we’re two from two at the moment,” James said.
“They’re big and often they get momentum when they get a roll on but we have to defend and we backed our defence in the end.”
Some razzle-dazzle footy followed by a penalty gifted the Bulldogs an early attacking opportunity and they took posted first-points after refusing to let the ball go to ground before winger Curtis Rona crossed in the corner to give the away-side a 4-0 lead after five minutes of play.
The Titans turned defence into attack in the eighth minute after Kevin Gordon collected a rebounded Josh Reynolds’ kick to race 70 metres down-field. With the scrambled Bulldogs defensive line the Titans spread the ball wide to James Roberts to barge over in the corner to tie the game up at 4-all.
The match turned into an arm-wrestle with both sides going set-for-set before back-to-back penalties gifted the Bulldogs a repeat set on the Titans line. They capitalised after dummy-half Michael Lichaa produced a deft short-ball to Tim Browne who offloaded to a barnstorming Sam Kasiano to barge over next to the posts gifting Mbye an easy conversion and his side a 10-4 lead after 30 minutes of play.
Keirran Moseley was forced from the field in the final minutes of the half with the Titans utility hooker succumbing to a left knee injury.
A clever Aidan Sezer 40-20 kick with 12 seconds remaining gifted the Titans one last attacking raid before the half-time break and they took full advantage with Kevin Gordon reeling in a Mortimer cross-field kick to score out wide. With Sezer converting from the sideline the Titans tied the match up at 10-all going into half-time.
The Titans broke the half-time deadlock in the 52nd minute after a brilliant set-piece starting from a Sezer inside-pass to a flying David Mead who threw it back to Mortimer before offloading to Brad Tighe to race 20 metres to score under the posts. With Sezer adding the extras the Titans took a 16-10 lead with under 30 minutes remaining.
The Titans looked to go back-to-back in the following set after Roberts broke through some strong Bulldogs defence to race downfield and fire a pass away to Tighe but a desperate try-saving tackle from Mbye forced the centre into touch before he planted the ball down.
There was no stopping the Titans in the 59th minute with Josh Hoffman cleaning up the scraps from a Sezer bomb to plant the ball down out wide and with Sezer converting the try the Titans lead extended out to 22-10.
The Titans got across the line again in the 67th minute but the video-referee ruled a double-movement in Ryan James’ attempt to get the ball down.
The Bulldogs ensured for a close finish when Rona grabbed his second-try in the 71st minute to reduce the Titans lead to 22-14.
But the Titans put an end to any Bulldogs comeback hopes with Roberts grabbing his second-try in the 77th minute to give the Titans the 28-14 win.
The Titans will look to go back-to-back at home, and record a third-straight win for the second time this season, when they take on the New Zealand Warriors at Cbus Super Stadium next week.
Gold Coast Titans 28 (J Roberts 2, K Gordon, B Tighe, J Hoffman tries; A Sezer 4 goals) defeated Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 14 (C Rona 2, S Kasiano tries; M Mbye goal)