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Prince shines as Titans hold out Bulldogs
Match Summary The Gold Coast Titans have held out the Canterbury Bulldogs in controversial circumstances to claim a 24-20 victory and go to the top of the NRL ladder.
With the Titans clinging to a four point lead, Bulldogs utility Michael Sullivan appeared to have grounded the ball on the goal line with just two minutes remaining. With the video replay pundits still analysing the put down, referee Jason Robinson had already ruled a forward pass and awarded a scrum feed to the Titans, effectively putting the match out of reach of the visitors.
Played in front of a crowd of over 22,000 on the Gold Coast, the match began with the Bulldogs getting repeat sets at the Gold Coast line. The Titans however, recovered from the early onslaught to launch a series of attacking raids on both sides of the ruck.
Overlooked by Queensland for the upcoming State of Origin clash, half back Scott Prince gave selectors plenty to think about with a near perfect passing display and attacking football to put the Titans in the driver's seat.
After 22 minutes of play, the home side raced away to a 16-0 lead, leaving a shell-shocked Bulldogs outfit in their wake.
But the Bulldogs struck back with two tries, the first in the 28th minute and another just before half time, to go into the break trailing 16-10.
Prince stamped his authority on the match again in the 46th minute, crashing over just wide of the uprights. Prince converted his own try and to put the Titans up by 22-10.
A try to hooker Corey Hughes in the 52nd minute got the Bulldogs within six before a penalty goal in the 61st minute to the Titans extended their lead to 24-16.
A sensational break from Bulldogs prop forward Jarrad Hickey late in the match set up a four-pointer for lock Reni Maitua in the corner, setting up nail-biting finish.
The Bulldogs continued to come back in the dying stages before the Sullivan's effort at the goal line was called back by the referee.
Match Details Gold Coast Titans 24 def Canterbury Bulldogs 20 Round 10 - May 16th, 2008 7:45pm Venue: Skilled Park Referee: Jason Robinson Half time: Titans 16-10 Crowd: 22,676
Gold Coast Titans 24 Tries: Smith Samau, Brad Meyers, Luke O'Dwyer, Scott Prince Goals: Scott Prince (4/5) Canterbury Bulldogs 20 Tries: Matthew Utai, Cameron Phelps, Corey Hughes, Reni Maitua Goals: Daniel Holdsworth (2/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Scott Prince (Titans) 2 Points: Mark Minichiello (Titans) 1 Point: Jarrad Hickey (Bulldogs)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Great night on the Gold Coast and perfect for football. Teams largely unchanged with quite a few eyes on 19-year-old speedster Shannon Walker making his debut for the Titans. For the Bulldogs, rookie Aaron Groom comes into the five eighth spot wearing No.21 to replace Ben Roberts.
TEAMS AT KICK OFF TITANS: 1. Bowen, 2. Jeffrey, 3. O'Dwyer, 4. Delaney, 5. Samau, 6. Harrison, 7. Prince (c), 8. Bailey (c), 9. Friend, 10. Hodgson, 11. Meyers, 12. Minichiello, 13. Conn. Int: 14. Cannings, 16. Graham, 17. Cooper, 20. S Walker. BULLDOGS: 1. Patten, 2. Nanai, 3. Winitana, 4. Phelps, 5. Utai, 21. Groom, 7. Holdsworth, 8. Hickey, 9. Hughes, 10. Armit, 11. Williams, 12. Ryan (c), 13. Maitua Int: 14. Te Maari, 15. Kouparitsas, 17. Sullivan, 19. Morrin.
Players coming onto the field... Bulldogs KICK OFF and Titans have first use of the ball.
5 min: HELD UP - Bulldogs pressuring the Titans' line with repeat sets. Titans defend well in the opening five minutes after enduring 31 tackles to the Bulldogs 6.
8 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Winger Smith Samau scores in the corner on the end of an overlap with Scott Prince setting up play. Follows a bust down the right side from Josh Graham. Conversion attempt by Prince unsuccessful. Gold Coast Titans 4-0
13 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Forward Brad Meyers crashes over from close range after being a delivered a near perfect pass from Prince across the face of the defence. Conversion attempt by Prince just wide of the posts is successful. Gold Coast Titans 10-0
22 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Centre Luke O'Dwyer scores out wide after a great exchange of passes between hooker Nathan Friend, back rower Mark Minichiello and winger Ben Jeffery down the left side. Titans now dominating on both sides of the ruck. Sideline conversion from Prince is a ripper. Gold Coast Titans 16-0
28 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Winger Matt Utai scores in the corner after some quick hands from 10m out. Follows an error from the Titans to give the visitors possession. Perfect sideline conversion from Daniel Holdsworth, right over the black dot. Gold Coast Titans 16-6
37 min: Patten and Prince have a push and shove after Patten takes exception to being pushed in the back in the in-goal. No punches thrown.
39 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Centre Cameron Phelps scores out wide after Holdsworth kicks along the ground from 30m out. In the scramble for the ball, Titans prop Luke Bailey knocks the ball back into the in-goal and Phelps dives on it to get the four-pointer. Conversion attempt by Holdsworth pushed well wide of the uprights. Gold Coast Titans 16-10
Half time: Titans 16-10 Extraordinary half of football with the Bulldogs getting plenty of possession in the opening five minutes before the Titans released an onslaught to race away to a 16-0 lead. But the Bulldogs struck back against the run of play to score two well worked tries at the backend. Bulldogs with 52% possession in the first half. This match is up for grabs.
Second half underway...
46 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Prince dummies and goes himself to score 10m wide of the posts after taking a well timed pass from Friend. Conversion attempt by Prince is successful. Gold Coast Titans 22-10
51 min: Titans winger Jeffrey penalised and then marched 10m for back chat. Follows him being tackled into touch moments earlier.
52 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Hooker Corey Hughes dummies and goes himself from close range to crash over just wide of the posts, the defence nodding off. Conversion attempt by Holdsworth successful. Gold Coast Titans 22-16
57 min: Titans on the attack and kick through from Prince is blocked by a Bulldogs player. Appears to be played at and Prince regathers and claims six again. Referee doesn't agree and the Bulldogs are given the handover. Bulldogs off the hook.
61 min: PENALTY GOAL Gold Coast Titans Prince makes no mistake from 30m out and almost in front. Follows the Bulldogs being penalised and then centre Lee Te Maari marched 10m for back chat. Gold Coast Titans 24-16
62 min: Bulldogs fullback Luke Patten makes a bust down the right side and finds Sonny Bill Williams in support on the inside. Williams is tackled from behind and Titans survive.
63 min: The Titans winger Shannon Walker comes on for the first time, wearing the number 20 jersey.
67 min: Walker gets his first touch and loses possession in the subsequent play-the-ball - a loose carry, a more experienced tackler, and the ball pops out. Titans under the hammer with the Bulldogs getting repeat sets at the line.
72 min: Stoppage in play as two fans run onto the field - fully clothed.
73 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Lock forward Reni Maitua scores in the corner. Follows prop forward Jarrad Hickey making a sensational bust downfield. Conversion attempt by Holdsworth unsuccessful. Gold Coast Titans 24-20
77 min: Bulldogs with the ball and a penalty deep in the Titans half.
78 min: Titans have the ball back after Michael Sullivan comes within a whisker of scoring next to the posts. Desperate defence. A controversial decision from the ref as Sullivan claims he grounded the ball on the line.
Full time: Titans 24-20 Tremendous game of rugby league. Titans hang on to post a big win and go to the top of the NRL ladder.