They faced an enormous task, the Titans heading to Sydney without several star players to take on the miserly Dragons – where a result would have a massive bearing on their finals hopes.
Despite dropping their past 3 games and missing Greg Bird and Ashley Harrison, the Gold Coast rallied tonight – grinding out a tough win in golden point extra time, pipping the Dragons 11-10.
On a cold, wet and slippery night – the Titans produced the kind of performance they had been delivering in the opening weeks of the NRL competition. A performance where they weren’t absolutely dominant, but they hung-in and were close enough to kick clear at the clutch.
Coach John Cartwright obviously relieved at the win, quickly pointed out that his side has been without luck in recent weeks. His belief was their form wasn’t overly bad, they simply couldn’t get the bounce of the ball or the 50/50 call. The coach doing a good job to keep his team focused for what was a critical clash.
The win keeps the Titans nestled in the Top 8 and gives them a genuine chance at a Top 4 finish if they can rediscover their consistency. It won’t be an easy task, given their assignment next week is to fly to Auckland and take on the resurgent Warriors on their own turf.
While the narrow loss tonight doesn’t sting the Dragons too badly, it does keep the race for the Minor Premiership open – with Bennetts side only 4 points clear of the Panthers and Tigers.
On a wet track, the Dragons were presented with limited opportunities to unleash their talent on the edges. A solid return for Matt Cooper was one positive for the joint-venture club, however coach Wayne Bennett was quick to shrug off the loss – suggesting the Titans were far too desperate in this clash, making it tough for his troops.
St George Illawarra face a similar situation to last year, they are comfortably out in front on the NRL ladder – they need to be cautious of simply ‘rolling’ along, against opposing sides who are upping the ante and playing desperation footy every single week.
It will be a good test of the Dragons next week, as they head to Brisbane to face the Broncos – who have proven a genuine force in recent weeks.