The Gold Training under-20s have not been able to take advantage of an opportunity to slip back into the top eight against a Bulldogs side below them on the ladder, and have been convincingly beaten 36-12 at ANZ Stadium.
Little went right for the Titans who were handed a tough preparation of having to take a 6am flight to Sydney to arrive in time for a 10.40 am kick-off.
They made too many handling errors in the first half, gave the big Bulldogs pack plenty of roll-forward through the middle, watched Canterbury score a try from a ball springing from the base of the upright into Bulldogs hands off a kick – and were down two players by half-time.
Winger Brayden McGrady came off with a leg injury after 20 minutes which meant coach Ben Woolf had to shuffle Simione Fatefahi to the right centre. Prop Nathan Watts also couldn’t return to the field after the second half because of concussion.
Yet the Titans were outplayed in the wet conditions and were on top from when they scored their first try less than three minutes into the match.
The Titans had a slow start to the match, and conceded a try to Canterbury second-rower Luis Strickland in just the second minute.
They steadied well and had a territorial and possession advantage for the next 10 minutes yet it was the Bulldogs to score next when a shift to the left from 30 metres saw winger Marcelo Montoya cross in the left corner for an 8-0 lead after 15 minutes.
Soon after came a terrible strike of bad luck for the Titans when a kick from Bulldogs halfback Zac Greene hit the base of the left upright and bounced over Tyronne Roberts-Davis’ head and straight into the arms of Canterbury hooker Joseph Tramontana who scored.
Josh Bergamin’s conversion made it 14-0 and it was only three minutes later when Strickland was in for his second when he targeted Titans halfback Tye Barry on the Dogs’ right edge and he was too powerful from short range. Bergamin’s goal took the score to 20-0 after 24 minutes.
The Titans were on the board finally after 28 minutes when they headed upfield well through the minute and after a good carry from skipper Jed Cartwright put them in striking distance. Two rucks later Nathan Watts crashed over from one pass off the ruck.
Tyronne Roberts-Davis converted from close to the posts for 20-6 and the Titans were playing with more confidence and simplified their attack in the light rain that was driving in behind them. But they were unable to add any more points before the half-time break.
Momentum can shift quickly in under-20s but it didn’t turn the Titans’ way in the second half and having to shuffle the backline and not having the experienced Watts there did not help.
Lachlan Lewis, nephew of league legend Wally, landed a 40-20 kick for the Bulldogs and from the ensuing set a grubber to the right corner from Bergamin was pounced on by right winger Jack Gibbons with Christian Mika slow to double back.
Soon after, against the run of play, Bulldogs centre Jayden Okunbor, a Jamaal Idris lookalike, trapped a Josh Rogers grubber kick on the Canterbury quarter line and ran away untouched to score under the posts. The conversion made it 30-6 after 55 minutes.
Ten minutes later the Bulldog scored their softest try when Okunbor strolled between three defenders from dummy half from a couple of metres out and the conversion made it 36-6.
To their credit the 15-man Titans kept pushing to the end in the wet and Shane Wright was rewarded when determination alone saw him pish through the defence from close range. Roberts-Davis’ conversion made it 36-12 which was the final score.
Canterbury 36 (Okunbor 2, Strickland 2, Montoya, Gibbons, Tramontana, tries; Bergamin goals) beat Gold Training Titans 12 (Watts, tries; Roberts-Davis goal).