Round 15: Bulldogs v Titans preview
Bulldogs farewell Moses Mbye as Titans look to keep slim finals hopes alive.
It has been a season to forget for Dean Pay's men, who sit anchored to 15th position on the ladder despite possessing one of the most imposing forward packs in the competition. Their big men have not been the issue in 2018, however, with their primary downfall being in attack. Their halves especially have struggled to take control and dictate Canterbury's attack, leading to confusion and doubt within the opposition 20. This was evident in last week's 18-16 loss to the Dragons, with Canterbury's kicking game leaving a lot to be desired at times. Their attacking woes are set to take a further hit with fullback Moses Mbye playing his last game in the Blue and White on Saturday. Arguably their biggest points-scoring threat, Mbye's departure speaks volumes of the Bulldogs' desperation to rid themselves of their salary cap concerns. Fortunately, Canterbury have one final chance to send Mbye off with a victory as they look to climb away from the bottom of the ladder. They also may be buoyed by the return to their spiritual home at Belmore, yet the Bulldogs have only won two of their past six at the ground.
Meanwhile, the Titans are just two points ahead of the Bulldogs on the ladder and look certain to miss this year's finals series. While no one could doubt their effort, last week's 18-16 loss to South Sydney would have been bitterly disappointing for coach Garth Brennan as the two points were there for the taking. An ill-disciplined Rabbitohs outfit continually presented the Titans with opportunities to steal the win but they were unable to. The Gold Coast will have to bounce back this week without Jarrod Wallace, who is serving a one-match suspension. Having won just one of their past eight games, confidence could be a key factor for the Titans if they open the scoring on Saturday afternoon.
Who to watch: For the home side, halves Jeremy Marshall-King and Matt Frawley will need to take greater responsibility if the Bulldogs are to improve. Neither managed to force a drop-out in last week's loss to the Dragons. Instead, Mbye was the one who took control within the opposition twenty and when coming out on trouble, finishing with more kicking metres than Marshall-King and Frawley combined. Against one of the best young halfbacks in the competition in Ashley Taylor, the Canterbury duo have to be better.
Speaking of Taylor, he could prove the spark in attack that the Gold Coast need to claim the win on Saturday. The Titans halfback currently leads the competition with 17 try-assists according to Fox Sports while in contrast the entire Bulldogs squad has only scored 30 tries throughout the year. It looks like three tries may even be enough for the Titans on Saturday afternoon and it would not be a surprise if all three of them are delivered by Taylor.
My tip: Both teams showed improvement in narrowly going down to two of the competition heavyweights last week. As long as the Titans hold firm in defence, Taylor should be able to create enough in attack to spoil Mbye's farewell. Titans by 7.