Gold Coast Titans 28
Tries: David Mead 2, Dave Taylor 2, Agnatius Paasi
Goals: Kane Elgey (4/5)
St George Illawarra Dragons 26
Tries: Mitch Rein, Mike Cooper, Benji Marshall, Gareth Widdop
Goals: Gareth Widdop (5/6)
The Gold Coast Titans have marked their final home game of 2015 with a dramatic 28-26 come from behind victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday at CBUS stadium.
While the Titans celebrated at the full time siren, the Dragons were left to commiserate as they failed to seal their spot in the NRL Finals, despite the odds still being stacked in their favour.
It has left major question marks over the St George side’s ability to do anything but make up the numbers in the top eight. For the Titans, however, it was a solid end to their home games, in a season plagued with drama. The club has faced off field controversy, low crowd numbers, and injury crisis, which worsened yesterday to the point they only had one man left on the interchange bench at one stage of the game.
Despite the odds, the Gold Coast Titans produced a stirring performance to upset their more fancied rivals.
The Dragons had looked the stronger of the two sides in the opening half, and continually held on to the lead they first gained in just the fourth minute when Mitch Rein made use of a quick Josh Dugan play the ball to swivel over from dummy half. The visitors then extended the lead to eight in the 11th minute of play through a Gareth Widdop penalty goal.
The Gold Coast Titans had been starved of possession early, but the momentum started to swing on the back of a couple of penalties, and the home side began to mount some pressure.
In the 23rd minute of play, some sustained time in the Dragon’s defensive half paid off when Agnatius Paasi barged his way over the line despite the best efforts of Dugan to hold the much larger man up. The try was sent upstairs to check if the ball was grounded, and with not enough evidence to over turn the on field call of try, the Titans moved to within two points of the Dragons at 8-6 down.
The St George side hit back almost straight away though, with prop Mike Cooper pushing past some soft Dave Taylor defence and barging over the line, with the Widdop conversion taking the margin back to 8 points in favour of the Red V.
Taylor made up for his poor attempted tackle on Cooper in the 31st minute when he managed to get himself one on one with Widdop close to the line, the massive unit to big for the St George five eighth to handle to allow the Titans to once again close the gap to two. Taylor started a push and shove following the try with an exuberant and fiery spray at Dragon’s second rower Joel Thompson.
The Dragons were still, however, proving tough to handle up the middle, and after making some inroads down field and forcing a Titans mistake, they crossed right on half time through Benji Marhsall, who stepped and skipped his way past some poor defence.
The Dragons took an eight point lead to the break, though it could have been 10 points, when Taylor failed to find 10m from the kick off following the Marshall try giving Widdop a penalty shot from half way, which was waved wide leaving the score 20-12 at the break.
The Titans needed to score first in the second half and did so in the 52nd minute through David Mead, his first try in 11 matches. The Gold coast winger then made it a double following a clever play from half Kane Elgey, who chipped across field for Mead to run on to the ball, catching the wingers up in the defensive line. The try was sent upstairs and although t seemed Mead had possibly lost control, the video referee deemed a finger was still on the ball and gave the green light, giving the Titans a 22-20 lead after 61 minutes.
The Titans pressed to extend their advantage, but could only come up with a ball going to ground which was scooped up by Widdop, who sprinted almost the full field to restore the Dragons advantage to four points with 13 minutes to play.
But in a final twist in the 77th minute, Dave Taylor again became Titans hero when he dived over from dummy half to give the Titans a dramatic 28-26 victory to celebrate their final home game of the season.