The Gold Training under-20s have averted a second collapse in six days by steadying in the second half and beating St George Illawarra 39-32 at Cbus Super Stadium.
The young Titans led 22-0 after just 19 minutes and dominated possession with low errors and exciting play to post four tries.
Yet the Dragons struck back with four tries in 13 minutes to square the scores 22-all by half-time. The previous Sunday the Titans led 20-6 early in the second half to go down 32-20 to the Sharks but stopped the flow this time and had a valuable win that should put them back in the top eight.
However, the Titans were never behind on the scoreboard and did enough to fight off the Dragons in the second half, scoring seven tries to six.
Skipper Jed Cartwright gave the Titans the perfect pass when he crashed through three defenders from short range on the left edge in the second minute to open the scoring. Tyronne Roberts-Davis converted for a 6-0 early lead.
After 10 minutes Brayden McGrady crossed after great lead up work by Roberts-Davis who beat a couple with a step and a one-handed offload near the tryline. Roberts-Davis converted after the ball hit the left upright and crossed the crossbar.
Less than four minutes later Philip Sami scored on the left edge after a good pass at the line. This time Roberts-Davis missed for the score to remain 16-0 and the young Titans had their best start to a match this season.
Ethan Roberts burrowed over from dummy half three minutes later on the back of two penalties, and Roberts-Davis converted for a 22-0 lead after just 20 minutes.
Twenty three minutes into the game the Dragons were on the board when lock Jacob Host scored a soft try from a sort-side move from a penalty tap 10m from the Titans’ line.
The visitors were in shortly after when right winger Rueben Garrick snatched a bomb he contested with David Pritchard. Paora Kemp converted from touch to make it 22-10 and the Dragons took less than five minutes to score their third straight try through centre Donte Efaraimo after a shift to the left.
Kemp’s conversion made it 22-16 and after a penalty and two sets, the Dragons’ incredible momentum shift continued when the other centre Patrick Herbert scoring from another shift to their left, the game had changed dramatically in the space of 13 minutes, with the score going from 22-0 to 22-20.
A goal from an offside penalty right on half-time saw the scores level at 22-all at the break, an incredible scenario after the Titans dominated the first 25 minutes.
Five minutes the second half, McGrady made it a double with a good individual try when he beat three defenders from 20 metres. Roberts-Davis’ conversion saw the Titans take a 28-22 lead.
Both teams had plenty of points left in them, as per most Holden Cup games and Dragons centre Patrick Herbert grabbed his second try seven minutes later when he broke through too easily near halfway and ran away to score. Kemp’s conversion saw the scored locked again at 28 apiece.
With 12 minutes remaining, off the back of a penalty in their own half, the Titans swept upfield and Roberts-Davis just beat the cover into the right corner and gave the Titans the lead again. He failed with the kick from the touchline, so the Titans led 32-28.
Big prop Kurt Bernard gave the Titans the breathing space they needed when he thrust his 121kg at the line one pass off the ruck and had five defenders clinging to him as he forced the ball. Roberts-Davis converted for 38-28 with 13 minutes remaining.
The result still wasn’t certain though when Dragons hooker Reece Robinson put the Dragons within six points with three minutes remaining but a Dragons error with the ball gave the Titans possession and they were able to close out the game, with five-eighth Josh Rogers kicking a field goal in the final 40 seconds.
Gold Training 39 (McMahon 2, Cartwright, Sami, Roberts, Roberts-Davis, Bernard tries; Roberts-Davis 5 goals, Rogers field goal) beat Dragons 32 (Herbert 2, Host, Efaraimo, Garrick, Robson tries; Kemp 4 goals).