The St George Illawarra of old was on show at WIN Stadium, not only in style of play – but also their strip. As they wore the old school red Steelers outfits.
The change of clothes must have helped, because it was a committed and eager Dragons tonight – something we haven’t seen for a while. And doesn’t Simon Woolford add stability and direction to the team. While Hornby is a noted conductor for the Dragons, with Woolford in the side – they gain from years of experience and his guile and coolness under pressure is so valuable.
While Dean Young is not a full time pivot, but he played a good support role tonight and the Dragons got great service from their fringe men – with Chase Stanley and Nightingale having solid games. Nightingale really came of age tonight, with a top shelf chase down try and a massive save in defence midway through the second half.
As noted by the Channel 9 commentary, the forward pack at the Dragons really does have to stand up and be counted – guys like Poore and Sims really are at the age where they should be leading and I think tonight they did deliver. With Bailey gone, and Ryles going MIA so often – the younger forwards need to bare the weight and this has been noticably missing until tonight.
While the Dragons did still miss a lot of tackles tonight, the confidence has now stepped up a gear and things will grow from here – Brown will also be stoked with the discipline level from the Dragons, the end count being 8-4 in favour of the Dragons.
The Titans are facing a tough period in their young life. As we move into the mid-season, the new kids on the block are badly missing Presto – who provides that spark in attack and of course big Bull Bailey was out due to Origin commitments.
The attack didn’t flow tonight for the Gold Coast, so many times early on they were able to make a line break only for the last pass to go astray and be fumbled badly. Rogers was dangerous for the Titans, and in the first half he caused plenty of headaches for the Dragons. Sideshow Bob aka Matt Petersen was also dynamic and did everything he could to redeem himself from last weeks fiasco. Truely, Petersen was in everything and really should have been given more ball much earlier.
The Titans forwards really couldn’t be blamed either, I think it was a case of losing the wrestle in the play the ball and simply being so predictable in attack. The Gold Coast continued to turn the ball back on the inside on most plays and this became target practise for the Dragons hardmen.
A lot of talk centred around the fitness of both sides, and how the Billy Johnstone trained Titans would steam roll the puffy Dragons in the back end. This never eventuated, probably due to the fact that the Titans had to make 329 tackles, which was huge compared to the Dragons 269.
The Titans face the Rabbits next week in a home game for the Gold Coast.