Scott Parkinson reviews the Saturday evening clash between the Gold Coast Titans and St George Illawarra Dragons …
Tries: Alexander Brimson (6), Beau Fermor (28), Jarrod Wallace (73), Jamayne Isaako (88)
Goals: Jamayne Isaako 2 (29, 75)
Tries: Mathew Feagai (21), Jack De Belin (54), Moses Suli (69)
Goals: Zac Lomax 2 (56, 65 – pen)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Both sides were coming into this fixture looking for some magic, with the Titans looking to avoid their sixth straight loss and the Dragons looking to rebuild after a poor performance against the Storm.
All eyes were on the two fullbacks to start the game with Jayden Campbell returning to the Titans from injury and Tyrell Sloan being recalled to the Dragons after the late withdrawal of Andrew McCullough. Both players had strong touches early, looking dangerous with ball in hand. The Titans came out firing, led by their impressive forward duo of Moeaki Fotuaika and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, running hard and testing the opposing pack. Toby Sexton’s kicking game was on point early, continually putting the Dragons under pressure and forcing them into a number of drop outs. This pressure paid off with a Sexton bomb leading to an AJ Brimson try in the corner for the first points of the match.
Showing no signs of easing up, the Titans continued to make cheap metres, with the Dragons doing themselves no favours, giving away a number of ruck infringements which eventually led to Josh McGuire being sent to the sin bin for a professional foul. Showing their intent and sensing more points, the Titans went on the attack again only for the resilience of the Dragons’ defence turning them away. After what must have felt like an age, the Dragons finally found themselves in foreign territory and after 20 minutes of play finally made it to their opposition’s half. Despite being down to 12 men, Ben Hunt set up an impressive backline move before Moses Suli put Mathew Feagai over in the corner.
Back on even terms, both on the scoreboard and with McGuire back on the field, both sides looked to try and take an advantage going into the half. Despite showing great effort and attitude with their defence to start the half, the Dragons were caught napping when another brilliant Sexton kick was pounced on by Beau Fermor. With three Dragons players around the ball, they should have easily cleaned this up and let the Titans take early momentum.
HALF-TIME: Gold Coast Titans 10 St George Illawarra Dragons 4Embed from Getty Images
It was a polar opposite start as it was the Dragons with all the attacking intent early, piling repeated pressure on the Titans. Again showing why he is the premier kicker in the game, a Hunt 40/20 set his side up for an attacking raid on the Titans’ goal-line. However, in scenes that would have pleased Justin Holbrook, the Titans were stoic and desperate as they continued to turn away an aggressive Dragons attack. It looked like Suli had finally broken through only for replays to show Jack Bird had obstructed Campbell in the lead up. Only a few sets later, Jack De Belin displayed flashes of his representative credentials, crashing over after some great lead up work from Talatau Amone.
Just as it looked as though momentum was firmly in the Dragons’ favour, Campbell showed why he is one of the games best young fullbacks. Fielding a towering Hunt bomb, he took the catch and then lit up Suncorp with a darting 50-metre run, beating five defenders in the process. This had the potential to set up a Titans attacking chance but again poor handling and a lack of patience gifted the ball back to the Dragons. With the pressure released, Hunt took control and after a number of impressive runs they found themselves back in a great attacking position. While Mikaele Ravalawa was denied the try, the Bunker caught a shoulder charge in the lead up to the play. Zac Lomax slotted a difficult sideline conversion to put the Dragons in front.
Showing flashes of brilliance, the Titans attack responded soon after with another Campbell run setting up what looked like potential points. Just when things looked promising, it was big Tino who dropped the ball, which again led to his side failing to convert a big opportunity. To compound this poor error, the Dragons were able to score from the very next set with Suli getting a well-deserved try after breaking through a number of defenders in the lead up. It wouldn’t take the Titans long to get another crack at the Dragons defence, with some great runs by Moeaki Fotuaika and Fermor getting the Titans camped again in great attacking opportunity. This time there was no mistake as Jarrod Wallace crashed through with Jamayne Isaako nailing the conversion to set up a grandstand finish.
After some pretty poor efforts to ice the game, Golden Point seemed like an accurate way to determine the winner of the game. It looked as though the game had been gifted to the Titans with Sloane showing his inexperience by not contesting a high ball and kicking it ahead into a frustrated Hunt leading to an accidental offside call. Isaako was set up for the first attempt but was charged down. In the second period, it was Sloane again making a mistake early knocking the ball on as he brought the ball up from the kick off. He was reprieved as the Titans then knocked on with the very next play. With the football resembling a block of soap, and torrential rain falling, it seemed destined that a draw would be the final result.
Enter Isaako. Rather than taking what would have been an easy field goal from the scrum, Campbell shifted the ball wide sending Isaako over in the corner. After what felt like an age, the Bunker finally confirmed the try, sending the Titans home a winner.
It was a highly entertaining match with lots of chances for both sides. Justin Holbrook will hope that his Titans side can use this to build on what has been a disappointing season so far.
FULL-TIME: Gold Coast Titans 20 St George Illawarra Dragons 16 (Golden Point)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Jayden Campbell (Titans), 2 pts – Toby Sexton (Titans), 1 pt – Ben Hunt (Dragons)
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