The Bulldogs couldn't deliver a win for Moses Mbye in his last game in the blue-and-white jersey but Ryan James might have done enough to earn a NSW Origin spot as the Titans overwhelmed Canterbury 32-10 at Belmore Oval on Saturday.
Mbye did score a try – his 15th and last for the club in 94 games – on the half-time bell, but the game was all but gone after just 40 minutes at 22-4. And so is the Bulldogs' 2018 Telstra Premiership season.
The loss was the Dogs' fourth in succession and 11th for the year.
The Titans were impressive at a ground that is not easy on visiting teams at the best of times, especially now with the western end decorated in all the emblems and years of Canterbury's eight premierships. The Titans are still searching for their first title after 11 years in first grade.
It was only the fifth win of the year for rookie coach Garth Brennan but he has all the ingredients to build on with his smattering of Origin and international players like Kevin Proctor, Jarrod Wallace, Jai Arrow, Michael Gordon and Nathan Peats. James could now be added to that list.
The game was effectively over when Anthony Don scored a 24th-minute try in the right corner in his 100th NRL game. That shot the score out to 22-0.
But the intrigue was definitely still there as an Origin spot opened up in the NSW forward pack with the broken jaw to Penrith's Reagan Campbell-Gillard in Friday night's loss to the Roosters at Allianz Stadium.
The Titans skipper is most likely locked in a tussle with Dragons forward Tariq Sims for the call-up.
When James pushed through the tackle of David Klemmer and Aiden Tolman in the 20th minute to score near the posts, he would've earned a big tick in Brad Fittler's coaching sheet.
Remember it was Klemmer who was given a Blues spot for Origin I at the 11th hour because of his strong showing against Wests Tigers in round 12.
Klemmer may have a nervous wait while the match review committee scrutinises his hit on Titans five-eighth AJ Brimson in the 79th minute.
The Bulldogs prop appeared to blindside the No.6, although the referees took no action.
James was rested in the 74th minute but little wonder after 51 tackles, 126 metres and 11 hit-ups.
Match: Bulldogs v Titans
Round 15 -
Venue: Belmore Sports Ground
Underneath most of the good work of the Titans was the very talented head and boot of halfback Ash Taylor. He handled twice in Phillip Sami's 45th-minute try, but it was the class of his superb corner kick that hung in the breeze and fell right into his winger's hands that even had Bulldogs fans applauding.
The fans stayed on their feet as just minutes later Bulldogs centre John Olive picked up a loose pass from the Titans and sprinted 70 metres to score under the posts.
And then again they were disappointed when Kevin Proctor ran off a Taylor pass in the 58th minute through feeble defence for the visitors' sixth try of the afternoon.
The Bulldogs had won their past three games against the Titans but they didn't look dominant at any stage this time.
As impressive as the win was for Gold Coast it only shifts them from 12th to 11th on the ladder. So they will need to string a few more wins together in the remaining 10 rounds.
It was the Michael Gordon show early in Saturday's game. He scored two tries within six minutes – converted both – and then made another break upfield that eventually led to the James try. Gordon converted that too.
That meant 14 points in 20 minutes by the Titans fullback, but he wasn't done for the afternoon. It was his pass that put Don over in the right corner.
By half-time Gordon had already racked up 155 metres, a line-break assist, a try assist, alongside his two individual four-pointers. For game's end he had 194 metres, four line-breaks and three tackle-breaks to add to his points haul.
News & Notes ... The Titans had not won outside Queensland this season until today... winger Anthony Don played his 100th game...his seventh try for the season here was the 60th of his career – sitting at No.2 behind David Mead (67) for Titans highest try scorer....Bulldogs forward Clay Priest went off for an HIA in the 44th minute and didn't return.... the Bulldogs have won only one of their past six games at Belmore... After the rep weekend bye, the Bulldogs head up the M1 to play Newcastle, while the Titans head to another historic suburban ground in Leichhardt Oval to face the Wests Tigers...Crowd: 6,874
Goodbye try for Mbye