A dream debut, a front rower double and a solid defensive display.
If you only have time to read one line today, that about sums up the Titans performance against the Dragons in a 32 points to 10 win at Cbus Super Stadium.
On a perfect Gold Coast day, Toby Sexton became Titan number 168, as the Titans had the unfamiliar position of being the "away" team at Robina.
Sexton looked comfortable from kick-off and had some nice early touches.
After five minutes of back and forth, both teams had chances that they couldn’t capitalise on.
The Titans were the first inside the opposition 20, with Ash Taylor rolling a kick for Brian Kelly that tumbled over the dead ball line.
The Dragons chance came off the back of an Andrew McCullough break, with the hooker scurrying through the middle to put his side in attack. Ben Hunt grubbered into the in-goal, with Josh Kerr grounding the ball. It was deemed no try after the replay showed Kerr pushed a Titans player out of the contest.
Sexton’s passing game was on show, firing a long ball to the wing of Corey Thompson. The ensuing play could have been a try of the year contender but for a few millimetres. Thompson somehow forced a pass while in the tackle, Taylor kicking into the in goal and Kelly was there to bat the ball back in field as it again rolled towards the dead ball line. Kelly hit the ball back, finding Taylor, who then also risked falling into touch as he flicked it back for Fermor to plant the ball. On review it was found that Kelly’s bat-back was successful, but the ball landed on the dead-ball line and the play was dead.
Sexton had the first points of the game and the first of his NRL career, when he converted a penalty in front of the posts after 12-minutes with the Dragons diving on the ball from an off-side position.
Minutes later, the first try came through an unlikely source, with Jarrod Wallace scoring under the posts. The lead-up saw Sexton put in a cross field bomb with Kevin Proctor’s efforts in providing a contest seeing the ball hit the ground. Patrick Herbert collected and got the pass to Wallace to score.
The Dragons counter came through Matt Dufty. The fullback made a break from a kick-return a few sets later and made it to the Titans 40 metre line before he was wrangled by AJ Brimson. With a penalty going their way for high contact, the Dragons attacked from inside the Titans 10 and points came when Jack de Belin hit Ben Hunt with a nice pass.
The Titans burst into attack again with Mitch Rein holding a pass beautifully for AJ Brimson who went through a gap. The fullback had feet flying as he tried to regain his balance as he was bumped by a Dragon but still managed to march the Gold Coast side downfield. Taylor kicked to finish the set and Matthew Feagai collected for St George Illawarra. The Dragons winger had the ball stripped by Beau Fermor, with Corey Thompson grounding the ball in the corner. On review it was called no-try with the Fermor play deemed a knock on.
With six minutes left, David Fifita – injected off the interchange bench – made a huge impact. The second rower stopped, propped and pushed off at pace. He got on the outside of Ben Hunt, fending off the halfback and dragging three Dragons with him as he slid into the right corner. With Sexton converting from the sideline, the Titans held a 14 points to 6 lead at the break.
It didn’t lead to points, but it is worth mentioning the run of Corey Thompson just before the halftime break. For fans of the winger, this was vintage Thompson. As the Titans came out of their defensive end he beat at least six players with steps and fends.
After the break is was a Sexton kick that forced a Dragons error, with a floating end over end kick proving difficult for Dufty to collect.
In attack, it again was Fifita.
First he crossed. Turned back inside on a simple play, Fifita barged his way over and wrestled two Dragons to get the ball down. Jack Bird stripped the ball and was able to ground it, stopping the Titans try but meaning they received the ball back through a dropout.
On the next set came the points. Fifita got on the outside of the defence again, fending Cody Ramsey and getting a nice offload away to Greg Marzhew to score in the corner.
The Titans attack fired, but it was their defence that continued to prove strong. With the Dragons trying to fight their way back into the match, the Gold Coast side looked committed.
With 20 minutes left, the Titans were in again – and Jarrod Wallace had a double. The play started with a Dragons mid-field grubber finding Toby Sexton who dashed over halfway. With the Titans attacking the Dragons line, Jaimin Jollife hit hard close to the line and was able to get an arm free. He lobbed an off-load to his front row partner, with Wallace crossing to give the Titans a 24 points to 6 lead.
Sexton’s dream debut included a try. In front of a large crowd of family and friends, the halfback finished off a play where Wallace got an arm free for an offload that bounced off a Dragon and landed in the 20-year-olds arms.
The Titans now face the Bulldogs 'away' at Cbus Super Stadium before their next home game against the North Queensland Cowboys.