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Gallant Titans go down fighting in NRLW semi-finals

A gallant Gold Coast Titans have gone down fighting in their inaugural NRLW campaign, with their run in the competition coming to an end at the semi-final stage.

Down and out with five minutes remaining, the Titans side never gave up, scoring two late tries to threaten an unbelievable comeback.

The St George Illawarra Dragons ultimately proved too strong though, taking the match at Sydney's Leichardt Oval 24 points to 18.

The first ten minutes of the game saw the Titans under huge pressure.

The Dragons were camped inside the Gold Coast 20 metre line and repeatedly threatened, but the Titans constantly repelled St George Illawarra with strong defence.

Returning from injury for the semi-final, Evania Pelite showed how valuable she is to the Titans side with two big plays.

First, she snuffed out a Dragons attack with a great cover tackle forcing her opponent into touch.  Then she provided great kick chase pressure to force an error from Dragons fullback Emma Tonegato to give the Titans the ball to attack.

The efforts of Pelite were rewarded through veteran Steph Hancock.  The prop continued her try-scoring form, crossing for the first points of the afternoon.  A nice step from Hancock allowed her to beat two Dragons to score the try.

The 40-year-old had a massive first half, providing plenty of go-forward to help lay the platform for the Titans.  

The Dragons hit back in the 22nd minute, with winger Madison Bartlett finishing off a nice shift to the left to score in the corner.

Tonegato had the Dragons second four minutes later, pouncing on a grubber kick by hooker Keeley Davis to score.

Jetaya Faifua was strong at the back for the Titans and produced a number of try-saving plays in the last line of defence.  The first came when she was able to hold up Dragons lock Holli Wheeler in the in-goal.  An error from the next play proved the reward for Faifua's efforts.

Minutes later, Tonegato found space but again it was Faifua with a try saving tackle as the Dragons fullback powered towards the Titans line.

The Dragons took a 10-6 lead into the halftime break and were the first to score in the second half.

Dragons halfback Rachael Pearson turned centre Jaime Chapman underneath and with great speed and agility, Pearson was able to tumble over Titans defenders to get the ball down.

Errors cost the Titans in the second half, with the Dragons able to take control of the match.

A penalty goal gave the Dragons an 18-6 lead at the 55 minute mark.  The Titans put the ball out on the full from the restart and St George again capitalised, with Keeley Davis's converted try giving the Sydney side a 24 points to 6 lead with 11 minutes remaining.

The Titans refused to go away and continued to attack.

The margin was reduced when Cobie-Jane Morgan found Pelite, who had switched back to fullback, who then handed to Jasmine Peters who crossed for a try.  Peters beat three Dragons to score, with Tiana Raftstrand-Smith converting to give the Titans hope.

That hope grew when Steph Hancock had her double.  The prop reached out and got a hand to a Kimi Breayley-Nati grubber to score under the posts.  Breayley-Nati converted and the Titans were within 6 points with 20 seconds left on the clock.

Needing to go 90 metres downfield to produce the miracle, Morgan hoisted a long kick downfield looking for a flying Karina Brown.  As she closed on the ball, Tonegato found it first with the Dragons fullback putting the ball into touch to hand her side the win.

The Titans inaugural season in the NRLW competition was full of highlights, which included a win in front of the Legion at Cbus Super Stadium against the defending premiers (Brisbane Broncos).

The Dragons move into the NRLW final where they'll play either Brisbane or the Sydney Roosters next weekend.

Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.