Titans clean up depleted Dragons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Titans clean up depleted Dragons

Steve Jancetic 10/06/2011 10:50:11 PM Comments (0)

Lady luck finally smiled on Gold Coast as the Titans overcame a patched up St George Illawarra 28-14 to give their flagging NRL premiership hopes a much-needed boost on Friday night.

After struggling to a 8-4 halftime deficit against a Dragons side ravaged by injury and State of Origin call-ups, the Titans came out firing after the break, halfback Scott Prince the chief architect of the much-needed comeback.

It was the Dragons' first loss since March, the absence of six stars in Origin camps too much for the premiers to overcome.

Prince put the Titans ahead when he grubbered ahead for himself to score adjacent to the posts just after the restart, but it was a try to Mark Minichiello on 50 minutes that signalled a change in fortune.

Having twice had promising first half raids - including William Zillman crossing the stripe - called back for dubious forward passes, the video referee finally gave the Titans a break after Dragons debutant Alex McKinnon lost the ball ten metres out from his own line.

It took the gloss of what was a promising two-try performance from the 19-year-old Toyota Cup star, with Joseph Tomane appearing to strip the ball forward before Minichiello pounced to extend their lead to 18-8.

The Titans looked home when David Mead scored to make it three tries in 12 minutes but, when McKinnon barrelled over for his second of the night, the premiers were down by just six with more than 15 minutes left on the clock.

What was a gallant effort from the barely recognisable Dragons fell short of a fairytale comeback when Titans hooker Matt Srama capped an impressive performance with a try off a deft Ben Ridge offload.

The Titans made the perfect start in a bid to get off the bottom of the ladder when Prince bombed for Tomane to score, Jason Nightingale making a meal of the kick as fullback stand-in for Queensland winger Darius Boyd.

Nightingale made amends as he set up two tries in three minutes, the first to Ratu Peni Tagive before McKinnon - a backrower in his fourth year in the under 20s thrust into the centres to replace NSW centre Mark Gasnier - scored with his second touch of the ball after a basketball pass from the Kiwi international.

Titans coach John Cartwright, who said the win justified his decision to stand down as NSW assistant, claimed the result was reward for perseverance.

"I knew all the talk about their players being out, being talked into us just needing to turn up to win - we haven't been in that sort of form to expect that," Cartwright said.

"They kept us out of the game in the first half ... I'm just very happy for the boys in the end. It's been a very hard long month."

Dragons coach Wayne Bennett said the situation facing his side highlighted the inadequacies of forcing clubs to play without their representative stars.

"It runs a bit deeper than all that because you know the competition's not fair - the end result is the best teams don't get to play against each other for the 24 rounds of the year and I envy the AFL in that regard," Bennett said.

"It's unfair for the competition - other teams are affected like we are. It distorts to me the real standings in the game."

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