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Titans rocket back into top eight with strong win over the Bulldogs

The Gold Coast Titans have roared back into finals contention, returning to the NRL's top eight with a 34 points to 6 win over the Bulldogs.

There may have been no fans in the stands at Suncorp Stadium, but those watching at home would have been both entertained and satisfied by a Titans performance that saw some nice attacking plays mixed with good defence.

Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Titans RD20

After a testing first 10 minutes, it was Tino Fa'asuamaleaui who opened the scoring.

With Mitch Rein playing the ball, Fa'asuamaleaui moved into dummy half.  Close to the line, the lock muscled his way across and carried two Bulldogs with him to give the Gold Coast the first points.

AJ Brimson looked threating and cut the Dogs defence open at the 16 minute mark.  Looking for support, Brimson's pass went to ground and the Bulldogs had the ball back.

Mintues later, Brian Kelly argued the point via a Captain's Challenge after the on-field referee deemed that he had dropped the ball.  Kelly appeared to have hung on to the ball as it bobbled and bounced off his legs in the play the ball.  The video official decided that he'd lost control and the Titans lost their challenge.

The Bulldogs had a great 10 minute window where they attacked the Titans line, but most importantly for Gold Coast fans the defence held strong.  First it was Kevin Proctor who made a desperate tackle to stop a Bulldogs overlap.

Jarrod Wallace and Josh Jackson pushed and shoved as the veterans disagreed, but it was the aggression showed in defence that was most pleasing for the Titans.

David Fifita was injected after 22 minutes on the right side of the field, but it was another Titan off the interchange bench who had a barnstorming start to his time on field.

In his first run, Sam Lisone ran over the top of Adam Elliot and gained a penalty with a quick play the ball.  That was just the start for Lisone, with more magic from the prop to come shortly.

Before that, Fifita had the ball over the try line but it was deemed a double movement as the second rower couldn't resist reaching out to try and score.  He was attempting to finish a play that involved a nice play that went quickly through the hands, with Toby Sexton putting Fifita into space close to the line.

Bulldogs half Kyle Flanagan left the field, he injured himself as he tried to tackle winger Greg Marzhew.

The Bulldogs forced a repeat set after a nice kick into the Titans in-goal was cleaned up by Corey Thompson.  Dogs winger Jayden Okunbor gave the Gold Coast an immediate reprieve, dropping the ball off the restart.

Now, back to Lisone.

The prop turned playmaker to set up the Titans next try.  A beautiful flat pass at the line put Moeaki Fotuaika through a gap, with the Origin forward after to draw and pass to Toby Sexton.  Passing to his right, Sexton had his ball knocked down by a Bulldog but the ball bounced off the ground and was perfectly picked up by Esan Marsters who darted over to score.

The Titans big men turn it on and Marsters ends up scoring

Sexton missed the conversion and the Titans led 10-0.

Three minutes later, the Titans had another. 

Attacking inside the Bulldogs 20 metre line, Ash Taylor called for the ball on the short side.  He kicked early in the set in what was a beautifully executed play with Brian Kelly flashing through to beat the Bulldogs defenders to the grubber kick.

Early tackle kick perfect from Taylor to Kelly

The try, converted by Sexton, was the last in the half with the Titans leading 16-0 at the break.

Brimson, Marzhew, Thompson, Fotuaika and Fa'asuamaleui all had topped 100 running metres through the first 40 minutes.

Lisone looked more and more like a halfback as the game went on and again he found a forward partner with a beautiful ball - this time it was Fa'asuamaleaui that he put through a gap.

Neither team could capitalise on field position in what was an ugly ten minutes after the break with both teams making errors.

While not pretty, the positive was the Titans defence that again held strong as the Bulldogs had early chances to close the deficit.

More points came through Greg Marzhew in the 51st min, with Esan Marsters claiming an assist.  The centre contested a high ball, getting a hand to the footy and knocking it back to the Titans advantage.  With the ball falling his way, Marzhew took off for the line and scored close to the posts to give Sexton an easy conversion.

Marzhew scores after the Bulldogs fail to nullify a kick

The Titans up 22-0.

The Bulldogs had a chance when they made a break through the middle, but Brimson made a great fullbacks tackle to shutdown the linebreak by Jack Hetherington. 

Given a repeat set via a penalty for interference in the play the ball, the Dogs attacked the line but again the Titans held strong.  Good defence by Brian Kelly and Beau Fermor saw a Bulldogs error.

On the next set, it was the Titans who had more points.  Off a quick play the ball, Ash Taylor found Brimson with a great pass and the fullback went through the line.  Taylor, backing up on the inside, scored the try and the Titans lead was out to 28 with a quarter of the game to go.

Jarrod Wallace went for a gallop, with Brimson putting the prop into space with a nice flick pass.  Wallace had another moment for the highlights reel a few minutes later, with this one leading to points.

Close to the line, Wallace ran at speed towards the try line off a nice second man play and after getting an arm free from Corey Waddell's attempted tackle, he was able to lob a pass to his left that fell into the hands of Brian Kelly who scored in the corner.

It was straight back into attack off the kick-off, with Esan Marsters and David Fifita finding space down the right side to march the Titans back into the Dogs half.  The play broke down as the Gold Coasters tried to quickly shift to the left, with Ash Taylor throwing a forward pass as he attempted to get a ball to Corey Thompson's wing.

After shutting down the attacking raid, the Bulldogs had a line break with Waddell finding space  Beau Fermor put in a great chase to halt the second rowers progress while the defence retreated.  Given six again on the Titans line, the Bulldogs had their opening points with Bailey Biondi-Odo diving over from dummy half to score under the posts.

That's where the scoring ended, the Titans taking a 28 point win.  The victory moves the Titans into seventh position, with one game remaining in the round.

The Titans back five all had strong games, the halves played well in their second game as a combination and the forward pack led by Wallace, Fotuaika, Fifita and Fa'asuamaleui all fired, while the bench performances were also important for the Gold Coast side.

The Titans are scheduled to host the North Queensland Cowboys on the Gold Coast in round 21 and will looking for back-to-back wins over their northern rivals after defeating them 44 points to 8 in round three.