2023 NRL Round 2: Dragons 32, Titans 18
After a fast start from the Gold Coast Titans, a lacklustre St. George Illawarra Dragons side came to life and produced a dominant final 50 minute performance to get their season off to a winning start at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
St George Illawarra Dragons 32
Tries: (5) Jacob Liddle 31st, Ben Hunt 36th, Mikaele Ravalawa 39th, Tyrell Sloan 45th, Blake Lawrie 66th
Goals: (6) Zac Lomax 8th, 33rd, 46th, 49th, 53rd, 67th
Gold Coast Titans 18
Tries: (3) Alofiana Khan-Pereira 12th, Sam Verrills 18th, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 70th
Goals: (3) Tanah Boyd 13th, 20th, 71st
St George Illawarra looked to impress in their season opener and were given the chance to by the Gold Coast Titans after David Fifita dropped a kick just five minutes in. The Dragons couldn’t convert the field position into points, but it wasn’t long before they forced another error from Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, which led to a kickable penalty – Zac Lomax duly obliged to put the Dragons ahead 2-0.
The Dragons threatened the Titans’ line soon after, only to be denied a possible try by a forward pass ruling. The Titans wouldn’t make the same mistake and took the lead just 13 minutes in with AJ Brimson embarrassing the Dragons’ frail goal-line defence to put Alofiana Khan-Pereira over in the left-hand corner.
The Titans were fortunate to receive questionable penalty decisions to gain yet more good field position just before the half-way mark of the first half – they took full advantage of with piercing attack through a lacklustre St George defence and Sam Verrils ultimately going over from hooker largely unchallenged.
The Dragons tried to wrestle the game back in their favour and posed a promising attacking set only for Ben Hunt to throw the ball into touch on an overlap down the left edge to give the Titans a let off. Ben Murdoch-Masila produced the highlight of the half with an impressive line-break down the left edge, only for Ben Hunt to kick the ball straight to the Titans’ scrambling defence on tackle three, squandering any chance of points.
Fortunately for the home side, at least one player – Tyrell Sloan – turned up to the game, showing his raw speed with an excellent run from the base of the ruck to set up a try for Jacob Liddle from 60 metres out. Following the try, the Dragons gathered momentum and a foolish strip penalty transported the Dragons into good field position for them to force a goal-line drop-out with four-and-a-half minutes to go.
Hunt managed to redeem himself on a loop move with Lomax to cross over the left edge on the ensuing set, remarkably levelling the game largely against the run of play of the half. With Lomax unable to convert, the scores remained level with just under two minutes of the half left. Riding the momentum wave, the Dragons scored again (Mikaele Rawalawa) at the stroke of half-time to lead 16-12 going into the break.
The Dragons continued where they left off in the first half, scoring first through Tyrell Sloan running a great delayed line for Hunt to feed him close to the line. The Dragons kept the pressure on and had a huge possession advantage for the opening half of the second half, which they made good use of in grinding down a spirited Titans defence for Blake Lawrie to eventually cross 66 minutes in after the Dragons could only muster a Lomax penalty for all their pressure prior.
Following the Lawrie try, the Titans made a resurgence and, given some time with the ball, they were able to grab a try soon after to cancel out Lawrie’s dive under the sticks. Fa’asuamaleaui came up with the goods off a penalty and the Titans still had life, trailing 32-18 with just under 10 minutes to play.
Unfortunately the visitors couldn’t build on the ascendency at the back end of the second half and instead found the Dragons attacking their line once more – to no avail however and the score remained 32-18 for the Dragons to get their season off to a positive start.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 – Mikaele Ravalawa (Dragons)
2 – Tyrell Sloan (Dragons)
1 – Blake Lawrie (Dragons)
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