The iSelect Titans Holden Cup under-20s team have gone down again at home, 44-16 to fourth-placed St George Illawarra, after being in the game early in the second half at 18-16 behind.
Two wonderful tries to five-eighth Christian Hazard saw the Titans spring back into the game with tries within two minutes either side of half-time but ultimately too many one-on-one missed tackles and soft defence close to the try-line, and too many rushed passes or simple errors, proved too costly against the big Dragons outfit.
Like too often in recent games the Titans were slow to start and conceded two soft tries in the first 20 minutes, one of the Dragons’ left to centre Anderson and then on the right to the other centre Aitken for the Dragons to lead 12-0.
A brilliant show-and-go try from Titans five-eighth Hazard put the home side back in the game nine minutes before the break to bring it back to 18-4, with Connor Broadhurst missing a relatively easy conversion attempt.
The Dragons extended their lead through Anderson again when he too easily got through the defence from short range and Dragons’ Shannon Cook landed his third conversion three minutes from the break to open up what looked like would be an 18-4 half-time lead.
However Hazard again scored seconds from the break, this time it was converted by Kane Elgey, to put the Titans well in the match at 18-10 as the teams went to the dressing room. Right winger Roy Humphreys gave the Titans a dream start to the second half and with Elgey’s conversion saw a whole new context come over the game at 18-16 just two minutes into the second half.
But that was as close as our boys would get, and the game dramatically slipped away just as they seemed to have gained their first real momentum of the match. The Dragons would score four tries in 15 minutes from the 48-minute mark to run out to a 40-16 lead on the back of too many missed tackles and basic errors with the ball from the Titans. Right centre Euan Aitken had a hat-trick and his left centre partner Brent Anderson a double.
With the score at 42-16 the Titans woes got worse when fullback and co-captain Jahrome Hughes went down with what looked like a serious knee injury and was taken off.
The Dragons scored their final try seven minutes from the end.
St George Illawarra 44 (Aitken 3, Anderson 2, Dufty, G. Lolo, Crook tries; Crook 6 goals) beat iSelect Titans 16 (Hazard 2, Humphreys tries; Elgey 2 goals).