Canterbury have put on a show for prospective coach Cameron Ciraldo in a 36-26 NRL win over Gold Coast that also promises to intensify pressure on Titans boss Justin Holbrook.
Speculation premiership-winning Penrith assistant Ciraldo could join the Bulldogs came to a head this week when he was photographed lunching with a club sponsor.
Coaching the Bulldogs has become a much more attractive proposition now that interim coach Mick Potter has them playing the attacking brand of football that was on display in their fifth win of the season at CommBank Stadium.
Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr were the chief architects in Sunday’s win, which looks to have consigned Gold Coast to a battle with Wests Tigers to avoid the wooden spoon.
It has been a huge fall from grace for the Titans, who were one pass away from making the second week of the finals last year.
Gold Coast have won only three times in 2022 but need to win twice more and rely on other teams losing to finish any higher than 15th.
They have lost their past eight games to put coach Holbrook’s future at the club under the microscope.
The Titans conceded 26 points in the first half and could have been further behind had the bunker not denied three Bulldog tries.
Canterbury found it easy to break through the Titans’ brittle edges and capitalise; three of their four first-half tries came directly after line-breaks down the flanks and all three involved at least Burton or Addo-Carr.
In the most memorable, Addo-Carr flirted with the off-side rule by darting from the Bulldogs’ goal line, grabbing an intercept and racing 95 metres to score.
The Titans threatened to mount a second-half comeback and looked the more dangerous side from close range.
The Bulldogs missed fullback Jake Averillo (COVID-19) as replacement Declan Casey, in just his third NRL appearance, struggled to defuse the kicking games of the young Gold Coast halves.
But Addo-Carr produced a second intercept try and re-hashed his combination with Burton down the left edge to keep the Titans at bay.
Having placed Burton in a headlock during the State of Origin brawl, Titans captain Tino Fa’suamaleaui was met with a chorus of boos every time he touched the ball.
Bulldogs forward Corey Waddell could attract scrutiny from the match review committee for targeting him with an alleged eye gouge in the first half.
Waddell was placed on report.
Exciting young Titans fullback Jayden Campbell made his first appearance since tearing his hamstring in round 13 but played limited minutes at the request of club medical staff.
He looked confident running the ball after coming on in the 48th minute.
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