Bulldogs v Titans: Five Key Points
Sam Kasiano starred as the Bulldogs' lack of dummy-half options was exposed in their 36-14 trouncing of Gold Coast, in what could also spell the end of Titans linchpin Aidan Sezer's season and career at the club.
Kasiano punishing with and without the ball
Duly earning man-of-the-match honours for his efforts, Bulldogs prop Kasiano not only came up with two try-assists but also did his best to smash his opposition.
"The ribs are a bit sore, mate," Titans captain Greg Bird said of being hit by Kasiano. "But you get that in the big games, I would've taken exactly the same opportunity if I'd seen his ribcage open like that so I just had to roll with the punches."
Kasiano's hit on Bird was just the beginning, with his bone-crunching tackle on Sezer moments later ending the Titans playmaker's game early.
Sezer's Titans career in doubt
On Sezer, Titans coach Neil Henry was unsure of the damage suffered by possibly his most important player but was resigned to the fact the 24-year-old's career at the club could be over – with just three fixtures remaining.
"When you have 126kg landing on an 85kg body and it is side on something is going to give. And his shoulder moved a bit," Henry said post-game.
"I don't know if it's an AC joint injury or something worse but he certainly couldn't use his arm and it wasn't worth needling it. You'd have to say he's in doubt for the next couple of weeks."
Hooking dilemma becomes clear for Bulldogs
As Michael Lichaa limped off the field with a possible fractured bone in his foot within the first five minutes of proceedings, it became apparent that the Bulldogs' dummy-half role is very much up in the air over the next few weeks.
While Josh Jackson was admirable, he isn't the solution, and with Josh Reynolds out injured as well the responsibility may now fall on NSW Cup rake and four-time NRL player Damien Cook.
"Damien has been doing a great job in NSW Cup. He's been waiting and waiting for his opportunity so he'll step into the fray and handle it well," Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said post-game.
Halfback Trent Hodkinson told NRL.com: "Damien's training every day and he's been playing really well down in reserve grade so he'll slot in nicely and take the opportunity with both hands if Des chooses to go that way."
Titans' déjà vu
Drawing on the comparisons of their past two losses with both the Bulldogs and last week's opponents Melbourne producing similar performances, Henry had mixed emotions about the Titans' 'groundhog day'.
"We were in a similar situation in our game last week where Melbourne scored three tries in the last 10 minutes," he said. "I was really happy with how we hung in and stayed in the game, there was a bit of enterprise there. But we made too many unforced errors I suppose."
Penny drops for Bulldogs
After their big win over the Broncos last weekend, the Bulldogs are now clear on their plan to keep motivated and continue building towards finals success, according to fullback Sam Perrett.
"Each game that comes up there has been a bit of excitement knowing the season is coming to an end and the finals are close because of what's potentially there for us," Perrett told NRL.com. "That moment has come and gone. The penny has dropped and it's do-or-die for us now."
This article first appeared on NRL.com