After some rather disjointed performances in recent weeks, the St George Illawarra Dragons regained their mojo, recording a much-needed win away from home over the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium.
Having not scored for 171 minutes, that drought was broken in the Dragons 19-14 win, as their attacked clicked and their defence held firm for the most part.
Leading 18-6 at the break, the Dragons were in control for the first half but were forced to defend their line constantly in the second, as the Titans pressed hard to score.
The Titans had some great opportunities of their own to score through both David Mead and Nene Macdonald, but spirited Dragons defence – an ankle tap from Dugan on Mead and determination to stop Macdonald – prevented the Titans from scoring.
Whilst still not a perfect performance by the Dragons, it will give them confidence moving forward as they look to get their season back on track.
The kicking game of the Dragons controlled the match and that ultimately, won them the game. Although the Titans fought back well to make a game of things, the Dragons held on for their win.
As for the icing on the cake, captain Gareth Widdop slotted home a field goal.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor admitted that the lack of points hurts confidence and that fans expect more but he was pleased to bounce back and record a win.
“When you’re losing you get criticised a fair bit which is everyone’s job out there,” McGregor said.
“You get a bit of self doubt and confidence is down and you over-tighten as a player and I think we’ve been guilty of that a little bit.
“To get a win and put some points on the board is nice.”
Although they were better, there is still more room for improvement and captain Widdop knows that.
“I thought we started quite well and that’s where we need to get better, everyone doing their role within the team,” said Widdop.
“I think we’re slowly getting better at that but it certainly did feel a lot more fluent.
“Obviously we scored a few points there which was good but we certainly can get even better.”
Inability to mount efficient pressure in attack proved the Titans downfall, and Coach Neil Henry lamented those fundamental errors.
“We had a couple of errors from passes in the first half and then a couple of kicks that went too deep,” Henry lamented.
“It’s a real pressure release when you drop it into the in-goal on the full and they come back with seven tackles. It’s very hard to stop teams rolling down the field with that extra tackle and a 20-metre start.
The execution let them down somewhat and the point eluded them.
“We got a bit lateral [in attack] when we wanted to punch away a bit more direct. In the second half when we started doing that, our kicks were on the money and we really had a lot of territorial advantage but we still didn’t drive another nail in the coffin.
“We had a few opportunities to grab the ball and score some points and we didn’t so the game got away from us in the end.”
Player of the Game:
3. Gareth Widdop
2. Mike Cooper
1. David Mead
St George Illawarra 19 (Gareth Widdop, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Jack de Belin tries; Widdop 3 goals, field goal) def. Gold Coast Titans 14 (Agnatius Paasi, Tyrone Roberts tries; Ashley Taylor 2, Tyrone Roberts goals). Half-time: Dragons 18-6. Crowd: 12, 215. On report: Ryan James (Titans); Gareth Widdop (Dragons). Holden Cup: Titans 39-32.