Dragons down trying Titans

St George Illawarra have got themselves back into the winner's circle after a tough 19-18 win against the Gold Coast Titans in front of 12,189 fans at Robina.

In a contest between two sides, who after the mid-way point of 2014 season, found themselves in the wrong part of the ladder. It was a willing contest that lent itself to moments of individual brilliance, as they battled away from the depths of the National Rugby League ladder. 

A month into his return to the National Rugby League (NRL), Benji Marshall has enjoyed a turbulent second act to his career. From being jeered at Parramatta to his maestro performance against the lowly Sharks. Marshall was key to the Dragons fortunes today. The halfback having a hand in the opening two tries. 

The first, was some good link play between Marshall and Widdop, a combination that has stuttered in the last few weeks. Marshall's pass though, was on point to Leeson Ah Mau, who strode through the line, diving in for a rare four pointer for himself and more importantly, for a Dragons side, who started brightly.

One good thing, one bad for the former New Zealand representative. The bright start the Dragons enjoyed, was quickly curbed when after a break down the left. Benji trying to Marshall the winger down the right with the overlap, only found Gold Coast winger, Kevin Gordon with his cut-out to bring us back to 6-all.

After the bright start, the Dragons faded once again in the latter stages of a half. Gold Coast who shuffled their side more than a deck of cards before kick-off worked back into the contest. It is a feature of the Cartwright coached side that despite their plummet, they have been in most games that they play.

The mid-week signing of Daniel Mortimer brought some stability to a Gold Coast side, who were besieged by injury to their spine players. Some slick play kept the Titans camped on the Dragons line and they broke the Dragons resolve. Mortimer found an on-rushing Mark Minichiello who rolled over, slamming it down for a 12-6 lead.

Dragons who were noticeably struggling, needed inspiration from their key players. The messiah broke through, with a tattooed hue, Josh Dugan responded in the 31st minute. He beat two defenders with ease before spinning, stepping and crossing the line, to leave us deadlocked at twelve heading into the oranges. 

Both teams looked throughout the contest, that they weren't contemplating losing, as they opened their shoulders with more abandon that belied their positions before this afternoon. Despite the industry, neither team would break through, with Gareth Widdop controlling the ruck for the Dragons, placing kicks and passes into space regularly. 

The five-eighth who transferred from the Storm to the 'gong this season, found the groove that he lost after the opening month of the NRL competition. He started the interchange of passes for Trent Merrin, who was damaging in all his carries, this time running at open space after a tip-on from Michael Cooper to dive over.

Widdop after the Dragons weren't able to capitialise on the sin-binning of Nate Myles for dissent, calmly worked through the sets, earning drop-outs against a tiring Titans outfit. In the 71st minute, he pulled the trigger on a field goal to put the away side ahead by seven and seemingly on track for the win.

It wouldn't be the Dragons, if they did things easily though. Gold Coast weren't about to turn up their toes and hand the victory to the red-and-whites. Following a well worked short drop-out, they rampaged upfield before Brad Takairangi, wearing the six, playing at centre dummied for Gordon and went himself, reducing it to a one point lead.

The Titans just continue to fight. The effort didn't match the scoreboard though, as needing to go the full length from the restart, spilled it mid-way through the count. The big contingent of St George supporters counted down a victory, a rare commidity in 2014 for them. Next week they head home, to face the defending premiers, Melbourne. Gold Coast have the bye.


Match Details
Gold Coast Titans 18 St. George Illawarra Dragons 19
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
Crowd: 12189
Halftime Score: Gold Coast Titans 12 St. George Illawarra Dragons 12

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Gareth Widdop
2 points - Josh Dugan
1 point - Daniel Mortimer

GOLD COAST TITANS (18)
Tries: Kevin Gordon, Mark Minichiello, Brad Takairangi
Field Goals:
Conversions: Daniel Mortimer (1/1), Greg Bird (2/2)
Penalty Goals:

ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (19)
Tries: Leeson Ah Mau, Josh Dugan, Trent Merrin
Field Goals: Gareth Widdop (1/1)
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (3/3)
Penalty Goals:


LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

TEAM CHANGES:

SGI: There is a simple cosmetic change for the traveling team. Jack de Belin starts in place of representative forward Trent Merrin.

GLD: The home side who have been struggling in the last few weeks, has made several changes. The biggest being new signing Daniel Mortimer being thrown into the fire on his debut, starting at halfback with Maurice Blair moving to five-eighth. Brad Takairangi who initially, was going to play in the halves moves to his traditional centre role pushing out Brad Tighe.

In the forwards, Origin forward Dave Taylor starts in jersey 18 in the second row, as Ben Ridge joins him at lock in jersey 16. The bench is now Matt White, Greg Bird, Matt Srama and Nate Myles.

KICK-OFF here at Gold Coast. Dragons use the ball first.

3: PENALTY Dragons! First of the afternoon goes to the away side. Titans were locked in.

4: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Leeson Ah Mau. Kick to come.

The Dragons halves combine.. sending Leeson Ah Mau into a yawning gap for the opener.

5: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Gareth who had an off night with the boot last weekend, starts out with a mid-range shot and converts.

8: UNFORCED ERROR GOLD COAST TITANS
Luke Douglas makes an unforced error.

Everyone got a bit tangled for the Coast and Douglas spills it.

11: Simple stuff from the Dragons and it is working. They are rolling upfield and getting into good positions.

12: UNFORCED ERROR GOLD COAST TITANS
William Zillman makes an unforced error.

Once again, the Titans build some momentum before it breaks down. They had worked a backline play to Takairangi who cut inside, spilling the pill.

14: TRY GOLD COAST TITANS
Scored by Kevin Gordon. Kick to come.

Dragons were looking promising, Marshall was looking for Nightingale with the cut-out.. he only found Gordon who ran the required distance to counter attack for the Titans.

15: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION GOLD COAST TITANS
Conversion attempt by Daniel Mortimer successful.

Daniel Mortimer from besides the posts slams it through.

15: UNFORCED ERROR GOLD COAST TITANS
Kevin Gordon makes an unforced error.

The Titans were trying to work Gordon into space again but the winger spills it.

16: Dragons get pushed in the scrum and Titans have the ball!

16: UNFORCED ERROR GOLD COAST TITANS
Daniel Mortimer makes an unforced error.

They can't convert though, as Mortimer drops it.

19: It'll be a six again for the Titans after a knock on from the Dragons. They tried a play there but Gold Coast spilled it. No advantage so Titans ball.

21: PENALTY Titans - Dragons were well offside.

23: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Ben Creagh makes an unforced error.

Ben Creagh trying to lift his side, with a big run only manages to drop it.

24: Another PENALTY for the Gold Coast. De Belin wasn't moving off the tackler.

25: TRY GOLD COAST TITANS
Scored by Mark Minichiello. Kick to come.

The pass finally stuck. Mortimer to Minichiello who overpowers the defender and scores.

26: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION GOLD COAST TITANS
Conversion attempt by Greg Bird successful.

A slightly tougher assignment for fresh on the field, Greg Bird. He slots it.

30: PENALTY Dragons - strip from the Titans defenders as Merrin was wrestling for the offload.

31: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Josh Dugan. Kick to come.

He just beats people with ease. Josh Dugan spun out of two tackles, beating men before slamming it down.

32: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Widdop looking to make it 2/2, from in front.. doesn't make a mistake.

38: Those are the coach killers. Mitch Rein with a forward pass from dummy-half.

39: PENALTY Titans! Dragons weren't moving off the tackled player.

40: UNFORCED ERROR GOLD COAST TITANS
Nate Myles makes an unforced error.

Now a killer for the man in the home box. Nate Myles tried passing twice and must have that still on his mind. He erred in the play-the-ball.

40: HALFTIME :: It's been an entertaining, if erratic game. 12 all at the break.

43: Titans forced to defend repeat sets here after a Widdop kick.

43: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Gerard Beale makes an unforced error.

Beale couldn't rake in a Widdop kick.

45: Bird trying to start something for his side.. throws it right into Bronson Harrison.

47: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Benji Marshall makes an unforced error.

Dragons were conjuring up something there before the offload from Pumipi was fumbled by Marshall.

49: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Joel Thompson makes an unforced error.

Once again, a promising set from the Dragons grounds to a halt. Thompson spilling it.

52: PENALTY Dragons - A charging run from Ben Creagh is rewarded with a penalty.

54: SIX MORE Gold Coast.. as Mortimer becomes a magician.

56: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Gareth Widdop makes an unforced error.

Dragons drop it again in promising territory.

58: PENALTY Dragons - All the Titans were caught offside by Quinlan.

59: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Trent Merrin. Kick to come.

Some interchange between the two forwards gave Merrin a clear run at the line, he swan dives and plants it.

61: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Widdop converts again.

62: SIN BIN
Nate Myles is sent to the sin bin.

Nate Myles while all the commotion was happening, was sin binned. Talking back.

65: Benji Marshall showing his experience there. Just chipped a kick in-goal that trapped Gordon.

67: UNFORCED ERROR GOLD COAST TITANS
Kevin Gordon makes an unforced error.

Despite being down to twelve, Titans still throwing something at the Dragons. The left side shift is dropped by Gordon.

70: UNFORCED ERROR GOLD COAST TITANS
Kevin Gordon makes an unforced error.

Adventurous play there, a chip for Gordon who gathers and spills it.

72: SIX MORE for the Dragons after a grubber rebounds off a Titan.

73: SUCCESSFUL FIELD GOAL ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Field goal attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

On last. Widdop calmly slots a field goal.

75: UNFORCED ERROR GOLD COAST TITANS
Kevin Gordon makes an unforced error.

Feel for Gordon, I've written error against his name a lot but he's been in good positions. His hands have failed him today.

76: Marshall has found his range in this second half. Another kick just tantalizingly held up, so Zillman had to take it dead.

76: Short drop-out works! Titans with the ball.

79: TRY GOLD COAST TITANS
Scored by Brad Takairangi. Kick to come.

Titans have given us a grandstand finish. Takairangi this time went himself, straight through for the try.

79: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION GOLD COAST TITANS
Conversion attempt by Greg Bird successful.

Cool as ice, Bird slots the conversion.

80: UNFORCED ERROR GOLD COAST TITANS
James Roberts makes an unforced error.

Hot potato football here and James Roberts spills it. Dragons win.

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