The St George Illawarra Dragons were defeated 39-32 by the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium, Robina on Saturday.
The Young Dragons scored six tries in the high scoring affair including a double to captain Patrick Herbert but it had not been enough for victory.
Head Coach Matt Head had made the two changes to the team announced midweek with prop Jacob Esau elevated to the starting forward-pack in lieu of the omitted Matt Jurd.
Additionally, utility Stuart Mason was gifted his first chance to play at this grade after being named on the interchange.
The visitors had entered the encounter on the back of a dominant 38-12 win over the Brisbane Broncos nine days prior but found themselves chasing a converted try in the opening exchanges.
Titans second-rower Jed Cartwright was the surprise package for the hosts in a smart phase of play which exposed the visitors’ left side in the fourth minute.
Titans fullback Tyronne Roberts-Davis converted to make it 6-0.
Teammate Brayden McGrady followed suit six minutes later in a similar play which once again exposed the visitors’ left-flank.
Roberts-Davis conversion made it 12-0.
The hosts dealt a further two blows to their guests when both centre Greg Lelesiuao crossed the stripe and hooker Corey Manicaros burrowed his way over moments later.
Roberts-Davis converted one of his two goals to make it 22-0.
The Dragons however spurred into life just before the halfhour mark with two quick tries in succession to narrow the deficit back to within twelve points.
Dragons lock Jacob Host had been the first to cross the stripe with an impressive feat of strength to turn the tide in the 23rd minute.
This had then been followed-up by some individual razzle-dazzle by winger Reuben Garrick on the right flank two minutes later.
Momentum had purely shifted in the visitors’ favour by this stage of the game and it was not long before centre Donte Efaraimo scribed his name on the score sheet six minutes from the interval.
Herbert followed suit with a timely four-pointer of his own a minute later.
Kemp converted one of his two conversions during that time to make it 22-20.
Fortunately, the Wests Devils junior made-up for this with a coolly slotted penalty goal to level scores just before the curtains closed on the stanza.
Unfortunately, the home side reasserted their lead through a second blistering run to McGrady in the 56th minute.
Roberts-Davis converted his goal attempt to make it 28-22.
This was negated by the speed of Herbert who broke free from the line to dash forty minutes to score.
Kemp later slotted from the tee to again level the game at 28-all.
The Titans had managed to secure the lead for a third time in the closing stages of the game when Roberts-Davis and prop Kurt Bernard both crossed the stripe.
Dragons hooker Reece Robson had managed a salvo try in the closing stages of the match but any signs of a comeback were dashed when Roberts-Davis booted a field goal.
St George Illawarra Dragons 32. Tries: Herbert (2), Host, Garrick, Efaraimo, Robson. Goals: Kemp (3/6). Penalty Goal: Kemp (1/1).
Gold Coast Titans 39. Tries: McGrady (2),Cartwright, Lelesiuao, Manicaros, Roberts-Davis, Bernard. Goals: Roberts-Davis (5/7). Field Goal: Roberts-Davies (1/1).