The Aquis Gold Coast Titans put in one of their most controlled performances of the season to slip back into the top eight with a convincing victory over St George Illawarra at WIN Jubilee Oval.
After scoring in the second minute the Titans shut out the Dragons by completing 33 of their 39 sets, and run out dominant winners.
The Titans had the perfect start to the match.
Josh McCrone kicked out on the full to end the Dragons’ first set then the Titans earned a line dropout on theirs from an Ash Taylor grubber.
Their next set ended in a try to Nene Macdonald from a Tyrone Roberts bomb to the left corner. Macdonald leaped above former Titan Kalifa Faifai Loa to score his seventh try of the season.
Tyrone Roberts missed the kick but the Titans were in again before the Dragons had had a second set with the ball.
This time Ash Taylor put Chris McQueen over from close range on the right edge after a repeat set from a second line-drop out. Taylor this time took the kick but failed, so the Titans led 8-0 after 10 minutes – and the Dragons had had just one set with then ball.
When they did get a second set, a Gareth Widdop kick took a rebound off a Titans player and from the resulting second set left winger Kurt Mann crossed after he wriggled out of a Taylor-McQueen tackle close to the line.
Widdop converted for 8-6.
In the 27th a wonderful try to Nathan Peats, his first for the club, gave the Titans a 12-6 lead.
It began from an Agnatius Paasi flop-back in the tackle to Zeb Taia who fed Josh Hoffman and gave him some space. Hoffman beat Euan Aitken easily with a left foot step and had support inside and out and elected to put Peats over.
Roberts converted to give the Titans a 14-6 lead after 27 minutes.
There was no score for the remainder of the half as both teams controlled the ball well. However, there was some drama with Greg Bird put on report for a high tackle on a falling Gareth Widdop when second man in.
The Titans completed 17 or 19 sets in the first half for an 89 per cent completion rate and had a lot of confidence and structure in what they were doing.
And they had the perfect start to the second half too, with a try at the end of the Titans’ first set with the ball.
It came after a great bomb by Taylor was batted back by Hoffman, who got to the ball before Faifai Loa, to Agnatius Paasi. He put on a right foot step and fed Mead running a straight line on the inside and he crossed untouched. Roberts converted for 20-6 after 43 minutes.
The Dragons had their best sequence in the Titans’ half after a line-drop-out and were pressing Gold Coast’s line when Widdop threw a looping long pass on a block play to the right and Macdonald read it well, came off his wing, intercepted and ran 90 metre to score under the posts.
Roberts converted for a 26-6 lead with 23 minutes remaining. At that stage the Titans had failed to complete just two sets out of 28.
With seven minutes to go Konrad Hurrell latched onto a Dragons lost ball and he raced away. As the cover converged, he gave it to Anthony Don who scored under the posts for Roberts to have an easy kick to make it 32-6.
Titans 32 (Macdonald 2, McQueen, Peats, Mead tries; Roberts 3 goals)
Dragons 12 (Mann 2 tries; Widdop 2 goals). Crowd: 8256