Canterbury’s 34-16 NRL win over the Gold Coast on Sunday has come at a cost with hooker Michael Lichaa suffering a potentially season-ending ankle injury.
Despite an indifference performance at Central Coast Stadium, the Bulldogs held their top-eight spot at Central after Lichaa left the field with a fractured right ankle after just four minutes.
Dogs coach Des Hasler was optimistic his No.9 would only miss a couple of weeks however the recovery time for ankle fractures is generally around six weeks at least. That would make Lichaa available only for the grand final, should the Dogs qualify.
With utility Josh Reynolds still three weeks away from returning from a knee injury, Hasler said he would likely call on NSW Cup hooker Damien Cook to fill the void.
Lichaa was sporting a moon boot after the game and will have scans on Monday.
Hasler said it was tough to lose their starting hooker with three regular rounds to go but remained upbeat.
“(Lichaa) has developed his game really well, he’s worked hard to be an 80-minute player,” Hasler said.
“It’s a shame, but at same time you recognise it’s part of the game. It could be worse.”
After a James Roberts try moved the Titans within a converted try with 20 minutes remaining, the Bulldogs turned on the afterburners with three tries in the final 16 minutes.
The Bulldogs pack, who were already without Aiden Tolman due to a hamstring complaint, were dominant in the second half even after back-rower Josh Jackson was moved to hooker to cover Lichaa’s loss.
Sam Kasiano set the tempo with monster hits on Greg Bird and Sezer and had a hand in two tries.
Back-rower Greg Eastwood grabbed two tries in an outstanding display while Brett Morris and Curtis Rona crossed for doubles as well.
The Titans have their own injury worries with five-eighth Aidan Sezer suffering a potentially season-ending shoulder injury after the Kasiano tackle.
Coach Neil Henry already had to reshuffle his halves after Kane Elgey failed to take the field because of a hamstring problem and the situation only got worse when Sezer went off.
For most of the second half it left the visitors with a makeshift halves combination of Josh Hoffman and Greg Bird.
“Losing Aidan today, given Kane Elgey wasn’t there, and we had to reshuffle our backline with Hoffy (Josh Hoffman) at five-eighth on the left side,” Henry said.
“It made it a bit tougher but I was real happy with how we were hanging in and staying in the game and playing some enterprising footy.
“We made too many unforced errors I suppose, we turned the ball over a bit too much, it was a bit scrappy in places. I think we turned it over four or five times on tackle one.”
Henry said he expected the Titans to be without Sezer for several weeks.
Canterbury next face South Sydney on Friday night, while the Titans host Canberra next Sunday.