The St George Illawarra Dragons have beaten the Gold Coast Titans 40-28 in a high scoring shoot-out at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah, ending a five match losing streak.
With the wind blowing a gale, the Titans didn’t start well when Tyrone Peachey kicked the ball out on the full early on. Paul Vaughan made the Titans pay, after he won the race to the ball off a Corey Norman grubber to put the Dragons up 6-0. The Titans were quick to answer back, after a flick pass from Sam Stone and some quick passing from Ryley Jacks and AJ Brimson led to Brian Kelly going over in the corner.
However, the Dragons made the most of another Titans error when Corey Norman put Tariq Sims over to take the lead 12-6. This lead was extended five minutes later, when Gareth Widdop put a kick into the in goal for Tyson Frizell to beat AJ Brimson to the ball. Just when it looked like the Dragons would take a 12 point lead into the break, AJ Brimson made a line break. Off the back of this, Tyrone Peachey was able to set up Kevin Proctor to crash over and cut the lead back to 18-12 at halftime.
The Dragons got back on track when Luciano Leilua broke through the line and offloaded for Ben Hunt to score. The Titans found a way to answer back through Phillip Sami in the corner, after the ball went through almost ten sets of hands. Again, the Dragons responded. Off the back of a line drop out, Cameron McInnis put Tariq Sims over untouched close to the line. The Dragons continued to put the blowtorch to the belly of the Titans, forcing another drop out and coming away with another easy try to Euan Aitken to give themselves a comfortable 20 point lead.
Despite going down by 20 points, the Titans made the most of an error from the Dragons off the kickoff. Bryce Cartwright turned this into points when he came up with a miraculous offload to give Sami his second try of the day. This effort seemed to spark the Titans as, off the following kickoff, they made a line break through some sloppy Dragons defence. AJ Brimson set up Ryley Jacks to score a long range try to get the score back to 36-28. Jason Saab snuffed out any hopes of a Titans come back, scoring in the corner to seal a 40-28 win for the home side.
Intensity not lost in bottom four shoot-out
Coming into this game, not many people would’ve expected an intense point scoring shoot-out given both teams are out of finals contention. But that’s exactly what we got. While the defence wasn’t anything to write home about, some of the attack on display from both teams was entertaining. It’s a good advertisement for the NRL when two teams who are not on track to make the finals show up with one of the more exciting games of footy to watch this round.
Returning players give Titans hope
Despite the Titans losing Ash Taylor and Nathan Peats in the lead up to this game, they welcomed back stars AJ Brimson and Jai Arrow to the starting side. It was obvious that Arrow brought a bit of grit go-forward back to the pack, which has been missing in recent weeks. But it was AJ Brimson who was the standout player on the field. In a losing effort, Brimson was simply brilliant in attack. In his return to fullback, he was involved in four of the Titans five tries and always looked dangerous with ball in hand.
Windy conditions cause havoc
The strong wind was a big factor in this game, as it changed the way both sides approached their kicking game. The Titans had the wind at their backs in the first half but couldn’t use it to their advantage. The Dragons however were able to make the most of it in the second half. They were able to exploit the Titans with some swirling bombs that were almost impossible to catch, which forced some dropouts and led to a lot of points for the home side.
James Graham plays game 400
In a big achievement for any rugby league player, James Graham played his 400th first grade game of football today. This is a phenomenal effort considering he plays in one of the toughest positions on the field and has also had his fair share of injuries throughout his career. Not many players reach 300 career games, let alone 400, so Graham deserves to be in the conversation as one of the all-time greats.
St George Illawarra Dragons 40
Tries: T. Sims 2, Vaughan, Frizell, Hunt, Aitken, Saab
Goals: Widdop 6/7
Drop Goals: n/a
Gold Coast Titans 28
Tries: Sami 2, Kelly, Proctor, Jacks
Goals: Peachey 4/5
Drop Goals: n/a
St George Illawarra Dragons: 1. Corey Norman 2. Jason Saab 3. Euan Aitken 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Patrick Kaufusi 12. Tariq Sims 13. Tyson Frizell Bench: 14. Jeremy Latimore 15. Korbin Sims 16. Jackson Ford 17. Luciano Leilua
Gold Coast Titans: 1. Alexander Brimson 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kallum Watkins 4. Brian Kelly 5. Phillip Sami 14. Tyrone Peachey 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Jarrod Wallace 18. Mitch Rein 10. Jai Whitbread 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Sam Stone 13. Jai Arrow Bench: 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 16. Brenko Lee 17. Bryce Cartwright 21. Leilani Latu