In their final home-game of the season, the Aquis Gold Coast Titans have gone down 26-14 to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Cbus Super Stadium this afternoon.
The Titans found themselves under the pump from the start of the contest with the red-hot Bulldogs outfit putting on a dominant performance to score four unanswered first-half tries to go into the break leading 20-0.
But the Titans started the second-half strongly to give the 10,887 strong crowd a glimmer of hope of a comeback by posting back-to-back tries to go into the final stanza of the match trailing 20-10.
Despite some free-flowing attacking plays the Titans were unable to break through the Bulldogs defence and a late try by the visitors forced the home-side to settle for their sixth successive loss.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring in the 14th minute with Moses Mbye making a bust up the blind-side before passing to Michael Lichaa before the hooker offloaded to William Hopoate to score under the posts. With Mbye adding the extras, the Bulldogs lead 6-0.
The Bulldogs made a break from the resulting kick-off and received a penalty to earn back-to-back sets and they converted possession into points with David Klemmer barging over inside the posts. With Mbye off the field undergoing a HIA test, Adam Elliott stepped up to convert from in-front for a 12-0 lead.
Poor discipline cost the Titans again in the 23rd minute with a penalty piggy-backing the Bulldogs up the field and they extended their lead with Brenko Lee getting an offload away to Marcelo Montoya to score in the corner for a 16-0 lead.
With the momentum in their favour, the Bulldogs extended their lead in the final minutes of the half with the Morris brother combining before Josh made a bust up the touchline to draw-and-pass back inside for Hopoate to cross for his second of the afternoon and give the visitors a 20-0 half-time lead.
The Titans started the second-half better with Tyrone Roberts collecting the scraps of an Ash Taylor cross-field kick to score in the corner before converting his own try to reduce the deficit back to 20-6 after 45 minutes.
Both sides were forced into a backline reshuffle with the Titans losing centre Dale Copley and Brett Morris joined Mbye on the Bulldogs injury bench.
The Titans went back-to-back in the 53rd minute with some razzle-dazzle play on the last tackle. Anthony Don batted a cross-field bomb from Jarryd Hayne back to Kevin Proctor who offloaded to Taylor who put a second kick in which Don managed to ground just inside the touchline to reduce the deficit back to 20-10.
But the Titans comeback effort was made harder after losing hooker Nathan Peats to a shoulder/pec injury in the 59th minute and utility Morgan Boyle in the 61st minute to the HIA.
The Bulldogs looked to have scored in the 70th minute but the bunker ruled Josh Morris went into touch before getting the ball down. However the Bulldogs received a penalty with an offside player ruled to be involved in the lead-up play.
From the resulting penalty, the Bulldogs were unable to break the Titans line before receiving another penalty and opting to take the goal to extend their lead out to 22-12 with eight minutes remaining.
The Bulldogs tied the match-up with a try in the 77th minute to Josh Morris who took an intercept from an Ash Taylor pass to score under the posts and give his side the 26-10 lead.
As always the Titans continued to compete until the final hooter and finished the match strongly with Phillip Sami crossing for his maiden NRL try to reduce the full-time deficit back to 26-14.
The Titans will look to fnish the season strongly when they take on the Sydney Roosters in the final round at Allianz Stadium next week
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 26 (W Hopoate 2, D Klemmer, M Montoya, J Morris tries; A Elliott 2, M Mbye 1 goals) defeated Gold Coast Titans 14 (T Roberts, A Don, P Sami tries; T Roberts 1 goal)