In what could hardly be called a Saturday night blockbuster, the St George Illawarra Dragons took a morale boosting 24-16 win over the Gold Coast Titans in front of 11,000 fans at Cbus Super Stadium.
The game was expected to be a point-scoring exhibition but despite being an end-to-end affair, it was far from that, with just one try a piece in the opening 40 minutes. The Titans scored first in the 15th minute when Jai Arrow was able to get over the line, able to use his footwork off the back of a good offload from Jarrod Wallace.
The home side looked as if they were going to keep a clean sheet in the first half, but some dazzling play in their own end from the Dragons saw Jonus Pearson get the ball and put on the speed and footwork to beat the Titans' defence going in and out between defenders to score.
In the second half, it was more like the point-scoring spectacle we had expected, with five tries between the two sides after play resumed. The Titans ran 100m early in the half, but at the last moment Tanah Boyd lost the ball in the process of scoring the try.
Instead the Dragons opened the scoring after halftime, when Luciano Leilua was able to draw in six defenders and still get the ball away for Corey Norman who ran 40 metres to score. The two sides continued to go end-to-end but it was the Titans who scored next when Mitch Rein took out from dummy half and found space.
The game wasn't without controversy - Tristan Sailor raced 95 metres after taking an intercept and scored what everyone thought was a try. However, Sailor was knocked back by Steve Clark in the bunker who ruled that the pass hit Euan Aitken's thumb and travelled forward from Aitken to where Sailor took the catch.
The contest was lively - but the Dragons started to get on top as Ben Hunt was able to get his way over the line from close range, and then Hunt again was able to get on the end of some good offloads from Vaughan and Widdop to race away and score and put the result beyond reasonable doubt.
The final try of the game came for the Titans who cleaned up the ball and Phillip Sami had very little room to work with but still was able to keep himself in and get the ball down in the corner to score. Michael Gordon finished his NRL career with a sideline conversion and the scoreline reached - and finished at - 24-16.
The win puts a small bright spark on the season for the Dragons while the loss means that the Titans went for nearly 3 months without victory at the back-end of 2019.