GOLD COAST - The Gold Coast Titans rubbed more salt in to the wounds of the Bulldogs with a 20-12 win in the NRL clash at Skilled Park last night.
Still smarting from the NRL's decision to strip the club of two points for last weekend's 14-man fiasco, the Bulldogs were outplayed by the Titans who recovered from the loss of star playmaker Scott Prince to a hamstring before kick-off to record their second win of the season.
Makeshift halfback Preston Campbell was in the thick of the action for the Titans, setting up one try and scoring another, while exciting young backs Esi Tonga and Kevin Gordon had strong games for the home side in front of a crowd of almost 20,000.
Both teams had their chances in the early exchanges before the Bulldogs opened the scoring in the 21st minute when Andrew Ryan barged over.
The Titans hit back 11 minutes later when Luke O'Dwyer scored from a Preston Campbell bomb and Mat Rogers' sideline conversion put the home side in front.
Campbell was in the action again just three minutes later with a solo try from close range to put the Titans up 10-4.
The Dogs were guilty of too much dropped ball in the first half and things didn't improve for the visitors after the break, when Rogers barged over for a soft try.
His conversion attempt hit the posts and bounced away for the second time of the night, but the Titans had skipped away to a 14-6 lead.
The Dogs closed the gap to just two points with a try to Bryson Goodwin in the 55th minute.
The Titans skipped eight points clear again in the 63rd minute when winger Esi Tonga finished off a well-worked backline play.
The Bulldogs thought they had scored in the left corner with nine minutes to go but the final pass was called forward, extinguishing their hopes of a comeback victory.
Titans coach John Cartwright praised the effort of his players, who had to overcome the loss of Prince who is likely to be fit for next weekend's clash against the Storm in Melbourne.
"Our attitude was tremendous," said Cartwright.
"We did things probably a little more structured than when Princey is there.
"We looked a little disjointed at times but I think overall it was a good effort."
Bulldogs captain Andrew Ryan refused to use the distraction of the 14th man controversy as an excuse for the loss.
"We got together early in the week and said it's out of our control," he explained.
"After that, at no stage did we talk about it, or think of using it as an excuse."
Coach Kevin Moore also would not be drawn on the effect the penalty had on his team.
"It's out of our control. We will let that appeal play itself out."