Bulldogs' grim NRL season worsens in loss to Titans

Gold Coast veteran Kieran Foran scored his first hat-trick in a 34-30 NRL win to ensure Canterbury's season from hell finished amid more despair.

The Dolphins will be happy with an update on star recruit in 2024, Bulldogs centre Jake Averillo, who left the field in the second half at Cbus Super Stadium with a suspected anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Canterbury coach Cameron Ciraldo said an initial dressing room assessment had brought good news.

"It is better than we thought," Ciraldo said.

"The ACL feels pretty good so it could be just a PCL or a capsule thing, so good news there hopefully."

The Titans' victory confirmed a dismal 15th position on the ladder for the Bulldogs. They have now missed the finals for the seventh consecutive season, an unacceptable result for such a proud club.  

Coach Cameron Ciraldo, in conjunction with Bulldogs supremo Phil Gould, will conduct a root-and-branch review of operations in the off-season.

Canterbury have secured Penrith duo Stephen Crichton and Jaeman Salmon along with Sydney Sydney's Blake Taaffe and former Cronulla centre Bronson Xerri for 2024 to bolster the squad.

Their strong roster for next season will ensure Ciraldo is under the microscope should there be no dramatic improvement. 

The coach would not buy into whether a finals finish or top four would be a pass mark next season.

"I am just happy to get through today. I will think about that tomorrow. I did say we would review everything but we review everything every day," Ciraldo said.

"I don't want to talk about ladders. We have some guys coming in who love footy and are going to be good additions to our squad."

The bright spot in the Bulldogs' display against the Titans was a hat-trick for winger Josh Addo-Carr.

Foran wound back the clock when he exploded through threadbare Bulldogs defence to score under the posts in the 13th minute. 

He then put on a classic display to bamboozle the Bulldogs defenders and score his second.

Addo-Carr blazed his way past five attempted tackles down the left sideline to run 80 metres and lift the Bulldogs back into the match with individual brilliance.

AJ Brimson raced 50 metres to score to give the Titans an 18-6 lead at the break.

After Foran completed his third try, Addo-Carr added two more to his tally, but the Titans wrapped it up with tries to Kruise Leeming and Alofiana Khan-Pereira.

Jim Lenihan took over as interim Titans head coach after Justin Holbrook was sacked mid-season but has ensured the 14th placed team remained competitive before handing over to the incoming Des Hasler.

Lenihan will stay on board in 2024 as an assistant.

"Hopefully we have started the ball rolling about shifting our mindset about what it takes for us to be a better football team," he said.

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