St George Illawarra kept its perfect NRL record over the Titans intact with a scrappy 16-10 win in Saturday evening’s round two match-up in Wollongong.
The Dragons scored three tries to two to notch their first win of the season and secure the first competition victory for new coach Wayne Bennett with above all a committed defensive display.
After a tight loss to last year’s runners-up Melbourne in week one, St George Illawarra showed they will be a force to be reckoned with this season under the former Broncos boss.
Apart from an early Scott Prince four-pointer and a consolation try to William Zillman at full-time, the Dragons defence stood strong against the normally potent Titans attack.
Despite Prince’s best efforts the visitors could not find a way over the tryline, and Dragons five-eighth Jamie Soward said the defensive effort was a big improvement on season’s past.
“Our attack’s not quite there yet, I think that’s evident to see,” he told Fox Sports after the match.
“But the most important thing for us is our defence and scramble, which is something we haven’t had in the past for 80 mins.”
The Titans, who are now winless against the Dragons in five attempts since joining the competition in 2007, drew first blood with a Prince try in just the fifth minute, but could not go on with the job from there on.
It was a poor result for Titans captain Luke Bailey, playing in his 150th NRL match, and the former Dragons prop said the side’s 15 errors cost them the game.
“I thought we played a tough game but a silly game at that,” he said.
“And St George just got over us in the second half and we couldn’t keep up.
“Both sides really defended well tonight, it was just a matter of who made the errors, and we made a couple back-to-back and it cost us dearly.”
Despite conceding early the Dragons took a 6-4 lead into half-time thanks to a converted try to Jeremy Smith, before Neville Costigan and Jason Nightingale crossed in the second stanza to get the home side over the line.
Gold Coast seemed a different outfit from the one that notched an impressive opening round win against Newcastle, completing just 72 per cent of its sets courtesy of a litany of handling errors.
Dragons: 16 (J Smith, N Costigan, J Nightingale tries; J Soward 2 conversions)
Titans: 10 (S Prince, W Zillman tries; S Prince conversion)