In the first National Rugby League game held in Toowoomba, St George-Illawarra Dragons remained in top spot following their 54-8 demolition of the Gold Coast Titans.
A shocking error by Kane Elgey from the kick-off presented the Dragons with their opening try to Matt Dufty. The Titans only try of the afternoon came through Michael Gordon after ten minutes. When scores were level at 8-all after 16 minutes, the game looked like being a close one and that’s where the battle ended. Dufty scored a career first hat-trick and Tim Lafai scored his third right on full-time as the Dragons outpaced and dominated a poor Titans outfit on their way to a nine tries to one victory.
DAMAGING DUFTY CARVES UP
There’s been plenty of wraps on St George-Illawarra Dragons fullback Matt Dufty and his performance on Sunday justified all the talk. It was a simply outstanding performance from the rookie, making the most metres in the game at a tick under two hundred, two line breaks, and generally being dangerous in a well orchestrated backline. He could be a benefactor from the Hunt/Widdop partnership in the halves as the Dragons build a very good spine which includes Dufty and Cameron McInnes.
TITAN TAKE TWO STEPS BACK
It was a footballing lesson for rookie coach Garth Brennan as for the first time his team conceded more than 50 points in a match. For those Titans fans with short memories, the effort replicated a similar performance at the back-end of 2017 where they fell to the Brisbane Broncos 54-0. At times the defence on the right hand side was pedestrian, especially Konrad Hurrell who looked more like an observer, not a defender. There’s a risk this side could be on the end of a belting this week with Brisbane looking to avenge for their average performance at Campbelltown.
SIMS 2 HURRELL 0
The game was meandering along at leafy Toowoomba on Sunday afternoon until Tariq Sims’ gamesmanship saw him push Konrad Hurrell into the fencing with the ball going over the dead ball line. It seemed unnecessary from Sims at the time, but it was only the beginning of the battle. Towards the back end of the half Sims squared up Hurrell and made him lose possession. Soon after Sims came in from the side and bundled Hurrell towards the sideline. Sims having a satisfying day out against an out-of-form Hurrell.
ASHLEY TAYLOR HOMETOWN SHOCKER
Playing in front of your local community might have spurred on a big performance from Ashley Taylor who was returning from injury. It was far from the truth. A horror afternoon involved being cleaned up by a high tackle late in the opening half and being charged with a deliberate trip which could have seen the half easily sent from the field. In a game where he could have proven to Queensland selectors he was the real deal against fellow Maroon Ben Hunt, he hardly fired a shot in anger. Origin is still a fair way off for him.
GOLD COAST TITANS 8
Tries: Michael Gordon
Goals: Michael Gordon 2
Drop Goals: n/a
ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 54
Tries: Matt Dufty 3, Tim Lafai 3, Nene McDonald, Gareth Widdop, Paul Vaughan
Goals: Gareth Widdop 9
Drop Goals: n/a
Titans: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Dale Copley, 4 Konrad Hurrell, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 Kane Elgey, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 Jai Arrow, 9 Nathan Peats, 17 Jarrod Wallace, 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Ryan James (c), 13 Bryce Cartwright. Interchange: 10 Leilani Latu, 14 Mitch Rein, 16 Morgan Boyle, 18 Keegan Hipgrave.
Dragons: 1 Matthew Dufty, 2 Nene Macdonald, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Jason Nightingale, 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Ben Hunt, 8 James Graham, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Paul Vaughan, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Jack De Belin. Interchange: 14 Luciano Leilua, 15 Kurt Mann, 16 Leeson Ah Mau, 17 Hame Sele.