St George handed Gold Coast its first loss on home soil for 2008 with a narrow 26-22 result in front of a disappointed Titans crowd at Skilled park in a highly contested NRL round 16 match-up on Saturday night.
The narrow victory gives the Dragons six wins on the trot and bumps them up to fifth on the competition ladder, while the Titans have now lost two in a row after going down to the Rabbitohs last Monday, much to the disappointment of the crowd of over 26,000 gathered on the Gold Coast.
The Titans are yet to record a win against the Dragons in the club’s short history, and the omissions of Scott Prince, Anthony Laffranchi and Ashley Harrison to Origin duties and Luke Bailey to injury did not make it any easier for the home side.
Titans livewire Preston Campbell refused to make excuses for the loss, and admitted the Dragons had outplayed them on their home soil.
“It was a tough game, we put in a good showing. We had a few blokes out but it’s no excuse obviously,” he told Fox Sports after the game.
“We’ve got players to replace but they are some big shoes to fill. The Dragons are playing well … they’ve got the wood on us at the moment.”
Neither side took control of the tough match-up, with Gold Coast’s opening margin of eight points after just 11 minutes the biggest for the match, with two Jamie Soward conversions proving the difference between the teams.
Both teams ran over for four tries, with Ben Hornby having his hand in the first two for the Dragons.
Hornby ran in a try from a magical off-load by Lagi Setu on the line for the Dragons’ opener in the 29th minute, then set up another later in the first half with a cut-out pass into space for Brett Morris to stroll over.
Soward was a standout for the visitors, playing a big role in setting up St George’s offensive forays and finishing with a perfect kicking record of five from as many attempts.
Mat Rogers kept the Gold Coast in the game throughout the match, his intercept in the 60th minute giving the home side a two-point lead after running in a try against the run of play. But his efforts proved fruitless as the Dragons secured the points when Michael Lett was awarded a simple try 11 minutes from time.
A high bomb from Soward towards the right side line was spilled after a clash between two Titans defenders, allowing Lett to snatch the ball from behind the play.
Dragons coach Nathan Brown says despite his team’s sixth win in a row, he was disappointed with its start to the game.
“Happy to win and happy that we fought back that was really good, I was just disappointed, I thought that we [were] a little bit slack and lacklustre in the first half and I think that probably helped them grow a leg,” he said.
Dragons: 26 (B Hornby, B Morris, C Stanley, M Lett tries; J Soward 4 conversions; J Soward 1 penalty)
Titans: 22 (B Jeffery, B Delaney, L O’Dwyer, Mat Rogers tries; M rogers 4 conversions; M Rogers 1 penalty)