A positive attacking game from Gold Coast has seen them down the Dragons 24-12 to book a quarter-final berth and leave St George Illawarra alongside Brisbane as the only winless teams of the tournament.
A long-range run from Greg Leleisiuao got the Titans close before a quality solo try from Chris McQueen opened the scoring. Euan Aitken made it look far too easy popping over from dummy-half to level up before the impressive Agnatius Paasi proved impossible to stop close to the Dragons line to reclaim the advantage 8-4 at half-time.
A long-range effort from Leleisiuao stretched the lead early in the second before Anthony Don was on hand to collect a Dan Mortimer short kick and gallop 30 metres to make it 20-4. An Ash Taylor cut-out handed McQueen – lurking around in his old position on the wing – a second try for the match.
Speaking after the victory, Titans recruit McQueen talked through his second for the day, reflecting the positive mood around the Gold Coast team.
"That second one there, 'Meady' (Titans outside back David Mead) wanted to go inside because he wanted to have a carry but soon after the ball made its way out to me and I scored so he was a little bit filthy at me after that one," he told NRL.com.
Kurt Mann and Aitken bagged late consolation tries but couldn't avert a 24-12 loss.
Scoring four tries at the tournament, Dragons centre Euan Aitken was pleased with his efforts despite the Dragons leaving Auckland without victory.
"I think my performances over the past couple of days have been solid. It's disappointing to go out with three losses but that's footy I suppose," Aitken told NRL.com.
"[We're] a competitive team at the moment. There's plenty of depth here and a lot of quality players fighting for plenty of positions. So I just have to put my best foot forward and let the coaches decide off the performances."
It is amazing how the Titans' pool changed quickly today. The Sharks started undefeated and well ahead on for and against but have missed out of quater finals by one point scored on the field.
It has meant the Titans went to top of the pool and will play a depleted Manly who are down to 12 fit players, where if the Sharks won or loss by less the Titans could have been plkaying the Warriors in front of a hostile crowd.
Gold Coast Titans 24 (McQueen 2, Paasi, Leleisiuao, Don tries; Roberts. Mortimer goals) def. St George Illawarra Dragons 12 (Aitken 2, Mann tries).