FOR most of Des Hasler's Canterbury Bulldogs, last night was one of the season's lowlights. For prop Sam Kasiano, however, things are likely to only get worse in the days ahead.
Gold Coast registered their third win of a mainly dismal year when they stunned the Dogs in the second match of last night's Suncorp Stadium double-header. Aside from the surprise result, the most remarkable thing about the contest was prop Kasiano's 45th-minute hit on Luke O'Dwyer - sure to reignite the shoulder-charge debate.
It was a challenge reminiscent of the one on Wests Tigers' Matt Groat which earned Brisbane's Ben Teo a two-week ban earlier in the season - but initial indications are that it was worse. As a groggy O'Dwyer was helped off, referee Jared Maxwell told Kasiano ''there was contact with the head, it's on report''.
Gold Coast opened up a 14-point lead on the Bulldogs midway through the second half but were then hit hard by injury, with late inclusions Scott Prince and Beau Champion forced off by hamstring injuries, leaving their replacements to hang on grimly.
Earlier, Champion looked to have scored from an Aidan Sezer kick in the 22nd minute but replays showed David Mead knocking the ball forward into Bryson Goodwin during the aerial contest and the touchdown was chalked off by video referee Pat Reynolds.
Sixty seconds later, the Bulldogs were in.
Interchange forward David Stagg sent a heady pass to back-rower Dene Halatau who found himself in the clear 20 metres out. Halatau calmly drew the defence before putting fullback Ben Barba in between the posts. Goodwin converted for 6-0.
There was a scare for the Titans when hefty centre Jamal Idris hurt himself 10 minutes short of halftime but he appeared to shake off what seemed to be a leg injury. Territorially, Gold Coast had level-pegged with their opponents but they looked like going into the break with nothing to show for it.
That changed when Canterbury centre Josh Morris was penalised for dissent in midfield. ''All he said was 'are you serious?','' said captain Michael Ennis. ''It's the way he said it,'' referee Jared Maxwell replied.
And after the touch-finder, Prince doubled around O'Dwyer who passed for the halfback to score. After some indecision over who would take the conversion and which kicking tee would be used, Sezer's attempt missed and the Titans were two points in arrears for oranges.
Hooker Matt Srama scrambled over from dummy-half eight minutes into the second half, with Prince goaling for a four-point lead.
Winger Mead could have posted a try not long afterwards. He chased Champion's kick and beat Barba to the ball - right under the fullback's nose as he attempted to shepherd it over the dead-ball line. But Mead did not exert any downward pressure and Reynolds disallowed the try.
For the second time, the Dogs mouths got them into trouble when Idris scored after they were marched for dissent in the 53rd minute. Idris pounced on a loose ball to score, Prince converting once more.
And Gold Coast were entitled to believe they had the contest wrapped up with 25 minutes to go, when second-rower Mark Minichiello crossed the stripe once more.
But the previous' week's overtime defeat to Wests Tigers would soon be haunting them.
Kasiano and Greg Eastwood combined over 60 metres before Barba bounced out of a couple of tackles to score in the 59th minute and Morris posted another Canterbury try with 11 minutes left. The sting was removed from the round 10 contest with late penalty goals to Sezer. One of them was a 40-metre effort and he added a field goal on the bell to leave Titans fans celebrating a result all too rare in a troubled campaign.
GOLD COAST 25 (J Idris M Minichiello S Prince M Srama tries S Prince 2 A Sezer 2 goals A Sezer field goal) bt BULLDOGS 14 (B Barba 2 J Morris tries B Goodwin goal) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Jared Maxwell, Brett Suttor. Crowd: 41,273.