The Gold Coast Titans have just managed to hold off a fast finishing St George Illawarra Dragons side tonight, winning 28-24 and defeating Saints for the first time since the young Gold Coast club entered the NRL in 2007.
In front of a vocal home crowd at Skilled Stadium, the Titans came out of the blocks hard and took advantage of several fortunate referee and video referee calls to bolt away from the Dragons and setup a strong early lead.
Sharp kicking from Titans captain Scott Prince and some vintage form from from forward Brad Meyers had the St George Illawarra side searching for answers as they struggled to gain any momentum and were visibly frustrated by some poor quality calls they received.
When Meyers crashed over for his 2nd try of the night right on the half time whistle, it looked all over for the visiting Dragons who were trailing 22-2 at the break.
But they came out for the second term with a different mindset – Bennett obviously getting his troops in the right frame of mind as they set about attacking the deficit.
The game certainly lifted a notch in the 2nd half, hits were getting harder and you could feel the tension rising between the two sides as the Dragons got themselves into the game with an early try.
Chris Walker and Preston Campbell were also standouts for their side, Walker was busy in attack and was hard to contain and the ever present Campbell was proving a rock in the fullback position – the little custodian pulling off some amazing bomb defusals, rising high above the pack and getting staggering hang time.
Neville Costigan was injured badly with what looked to be a breakage or dislocation in his arm or elbow region and Brad Meyers was brought crashing back to earth, knocked out by a Mickey Paea shoulder on the carry up. As the war wounds took their toll, next to fall victim was Mat Rogers who copped a rib injury – but managed to stay in the game albeit on the fringe, with some strong involvement late which helped his side home.
As the Dragons continued to build, coach Bennett threw Matt Head into the action for more points. It seemed to work, with the red and whites pulling off some sublime tries from set pieces, using kicks from scrums to totally bamboozle the Titans.
With 2 minutes to play Ben Hornby crashed over off a sharp grubber kick to get the Dragons within 2 points,Â the Saints refusing the conversion as they raced back for a quick kick off. But time got the better of them and the wounded, but committed Titans did enough to ensure the win.