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A fantastic first-half blitz from the Gold Coast Titans has given them their first ever win over the St George Illawarra Dragons tonight at Skilled Park, with a crowd of 24,106 in attendance.
In a Monday Night Football cracker marred early by swine flu withdrawals from both sides, both sides began proceedings with penalty goals. It was the Titans who crossed the stripe first however, twice in quick succession giving them a handy 12-2 lead after just 20 minutes.
With their forwards switched on and the Saints defence on the back foot, Gold Coast's charge continued as they came toward halftime, tries in the 25th and 39th minutes giving them a halftime lead of twenty points, at 22-2.
The second half was always going to be different, and Wayne Bennett must have put a rocket up the Dragons - they came out and blitzed the Titans. First Wendell Sailor crossed, and despite a hit-back from the Titans thanks to Luke O'Dwyer, the Dragons launched a scathing comeback, piling on two more tries to reduce the gap to eight.
The last ten minutes became a war of attrition, and the Dragons finally cracked the Titans with 45 seconds remaining. Hornby scored and declined the kick at goal. With the margin at four, the Dragons couldn't formulate a fulltime-siren miracle and the Titans held on for victory.
The Dragons have a hard task ahead when they head home to Wollongong and host the Cowboys (the Saints will wear a pink vee in place of the traditional red vee as part of Women in League Round), while the Titans will visit Gosford where the Roosters will put them through their paces.
Match Details Gold Coast Titans 28 def St George Illawarra Dragons 24 Round 13 - Monday June 8th, 2009 07:00pm Venue: Skilled Park Referee: Ben Cummins & Alan Shortall Sideline Officials: Russell Turner & Gavin Morris Video Referee: Paul Simpkins Crowd: 24,106 Halftime: Titans 22 Dragons 2
Gold Coast Titans 28 Tries: Chris Walker, Esikeli Tonga, Brad Meyers (2), Luke O'Dwyer Goals: Scott Prince (4/6) St George Illawarra Dragons 24 Tries: Wendell Sailor, Jamie Soward, Brett Morris, Ben Hornby Goals: Jamie Soward (4/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the game as it happens - Titans v Dragons forum discussion - click here!
We're at Skilled Park for arguably the best Monday night match-up so far this year. A few changes from both sides, of course related to today's earlier reports on an outbreak of swine influenza. Teams are as below:
TITANS: 1. Preston Campbell 17. William Zillman 3. Esikeli Tonga 4. Brett Delaney 5. Chris Walker 6. Mat Rogers 7. Scott Prince 8. Luke Bailey 9. Nathan Friend 10. Michael Henderson 11. Anthony Laffranchi 12. Brad Meyers 16. Luke O'Dwyer Interchange: 14. Aaron Cannings 15. Will Matthews 18. Josh Graham 23. David Mead DRAGONS: 16. Jason Nightingale 2. Brett Morris 3. Beau Scott 4. Matt Cooper 5. Wendell Sailor 6. Jamie Soward 7. Ben Hornby 8. Justin Poore 11. Dean Young 10. Michael Weyman 12. Ben Creagh 14. Dan Hunt 13. Neville Costigan Interchange: 9. Luke Priddis 15. Mickey Paea 17. Mathew Head 18. Jarrod Saffy
2 min: Preston Campbell very lucky to get away with touching the corner post chasing a pin-point kick toward touch. A few plays later and the Titans have lost it. Saints to attack.
3 min: PENALTY Dragons - the Titans defence taking too long to hop off the tackled player. 12m out, right in front - Soward will take the two.
4 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons Soward converts the penalty into points. From the previous set it appears Michael Weyman has sustained some sort of throat injury. St George Illawarra Dragons 2-0
6 min: PENALTY Titans - now the Dragons are in trouble, Prince will take the two as well.
7 min: PENALTY GOAL Gold Coast Titans Prince pots it over, and the scores are level at 2-all after 7 minutes. 2 all
9 min: A sensational kick down the park following a break from Meyers, who offloaded to Mat Rogers, and it sees the Titans heavy on the attack on the last. Prince's final kick goes straight to Soward though.
10 min: PENALTY Dragons - the visitors get a piggy-back out of their own half with the Titans players offside.
11 min: PENALTY Titans - and this one has dudded Saints here - Campbell's been taken out in the contest for a high ball, but it was by Scott Prince - his own teammate.
INJURY - Justin Poore (Dragons) has a corked knee. No news on if he'll return tonight.
12 min: A last tackle play from the Titans almost comes off but Nightingale is able to scoop up a loose pass from Scott Prince to get them out of the pressure zone.
14 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Titans try. And the "tapping the ball" debacle will rage for days after this one. Nightingale has missed the high ball and Chris Walker taps it over his head and goes on to score. Lucky stuff if they get it... AND Walker looks offside.
15 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Prince puts a kick through for Chris Walker on the wing, and while Walker looks marginally offside, he gets through, taps it over Nightingale who was already slipping over, and Paul Simpkins is happy to award it with Benefit of the Doubt. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 8-2
16 min: PENALTY Titans - they'll get to attack again, the Dragons defence not retreating the full ten metres.
18 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans The Titans are able to run the numbers down the left and quick hands from Preston Campbell puts Esi Tonga in the corner. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 14-2
21 min: PENALTY Titans - everything against the Saints at the moment, just messy stuff in the play the ball costing them, and giving the Titans field position. Penalty count now reads 5-2 to the Titans.
23 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Titans try. Meyers may have done a double movement. Checking upstairs...
24 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans The Dragons defence is falling to pieces here, the Titans take full advantage as Brad Meyers crashes over. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince unsuccessful. Gold Coast Titans 18-2
27 min: Prince puts a deep kick down to the Dragons wing, Sailor picks it up on one side of the in-goal and runs all the way across the other side and makes an additional ten metres.
28 min: PENALTY Dragons - finally a chance to attack for the visitors.
29 min: The Dragons run it on the last, they go wide and Cooper puts it on for Brett Morris... who's forced into touch. Titans scrum.
31 min: PENALTY Dragons - Saints get a penalty coming out of their own for a ruck infringement. Another shot at the line now.
32 min: PENALTY Dragons - a Costigan pass coming into contact with a Titans player sees the tackle count restart. Soward gets within a metre of the line. From the play-the-ball the Titans are all offside. Another set on the Titans line.
34 min: The kick on the last from Soward almost sees Hornby touch down but he loses it dead. The Titans have lost the ball now... and then two plays later the Saints have coughed it up! Drop-a-thon here.
37 min: A fifth-tackle kick is charged down by the Dragons but the ricochet of the ball takes it into touch. Titans feed on their own 30.
39 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Meyers rampages up the right hand side despite being crunched by Jason Nightingale a tackle earlier. He gets a double... the Saints are completely out of sorts tonight. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince unsuccessful. Gold Coast Titans 22-2
HALFTIME: Gold Coast Titans 22 St George Illawarra 2 Definitely would not want to be in the Dragons dressing room at halftime tonight as Wayne Bennett is sure to unleash on a lacklustre St George Illawarra. Offering little in attack and crumbling badly in defence, the Dragons are being run ragged by a Gold Coast side that simply is playing brilliant football. Brad Meyers has been an absolute standout for the home side with two tries. Can the Saints turn it around in the coming half? Stay tuned to leagueunlimited.com to find out.
INJURY NEWS - from the sheds it appears Mat Rogers (Titans) will miss the remainder of the game. Zillman goes to the back, Campbell will come in to partner Prince in the halves.
41 min: Soward's fifth tackle kick just trickles dead.
43 min: Meyers makes another rampaging run up the middle for the Gold Coast, but he falls awkwardly and drops the ball. Saints to attack from halfway.
44 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Dragons try. Wendell's crashed over... checking an earlier alleged knock-on.
45 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Big 'Dell crashes over to bring the Dragons back into proceedings. Benefit of the doubt given from an earlier potential knock on by Mickey Paea. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful. Gold Coast Titans 22-8
46 min: KABOOM! Mickey Paea and Brad Meyers come together, and the big Titans forward hits the ground, the second big hit on him this half. No penalty or scrum, it's play on, but Meyers is a bit out of it. He leaves the field.
50 min: Some pressure kicking from the Titans as they go wide puts Morris in a difficult position and he's forced to tap it dead. Line drop-out.
52 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Prince puts a short ball through the Dragons line on the last and Luke O'Dwyer is the first man there, great try and probably wraps the game up for them. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 28-8
55 min: Soward almost able to link up with Sailor out wide through a grubber but the Titans last line is there to clean up. More promising play a minute later but the pass toward touch is ruled forward.
58 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Jamie Soward picks up a scrappy fifth tackle kick from the Titans and gets past a feeble tackle attempt by Chris Walker... he's away! They won't stop him! Try in the corner for Soward. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful. Gold Coast Titans 28-14
INJURY: In the tackle prior to the Soward try, Neville Costigan (Dragons) seemed to cop a knock to the arm. He looks in plenty of pain, and comes from the field. Confirmed to be a shoulder injury.
61 min: A mistake from the Titans at the play-the-ball and the Saints will get a set right in front.
62 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons In the famous words of U2, the Saints are coming! From the scrum Jamie Soward grubbers it through the line. Brett Morris chases through... try! Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful. Gold Coast Titans 28-20
65 min: A pinpoint kick from Hornby sees Titans debutant David Mead trapped in goal. Line drop-out.
67 min: PENALTY Dragons - ten metres out and they ponder the two-point option, but decide to play on.
68 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Definitely not a Dragons try, but the referee is checking how Creagh has lost it over the line. NO TRY, of course, and he's lost it cold. 20m restart for the Titans. Still eight points the difference.
70 min: Beau Scott is just too close to touch on this run and Mat Rogers has a helping hand from a few defenders to push the Dragon into touch.
72 min: Chris Walker almost knocks on buit it's gone backwards and it's play on.
INJURY - Mat Rogers (Titans) has rib troubles now, he's limping gingerly out there.
74 min: Preston Campbell takes a Jamie Soward bomb perfectly to relieve the pressure on the Titans. From the ensuing set Jason Nightingale is trapped in goal, that might just be the game now for the Saints.
76 min: The Titans ignore a held call, Esi Tonga has passed after the tackle. Dragons scrum on their own ten.
78 min: The Dragons last realistic chance goes begging with two minutes remaining now. The Titans will aim to eat up the clock with this set. Wait on... the Titans kick is out on the full, 90 seconds, eight points. Dragons to attack.
79 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Hornby's in under the posts! They decline the kick. One play for the Saints, ten seconds. Let's go! Gold Coast Titans 28-24
80 min: PENALTY Titans - Soward's cross-field kick doesn't do it for the Saints, Morris is offside.
FULLTIME: Gold Coast Titans 28 St George Illawarra Dragons 24