The Dragons have given warhorse forward James Graham another winning farewell present with a vital 20-8 victory over the Titans at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Graham is expected to leave the NRL and finish his illustrious career with St Helens although the England international told Fox Sports straight after the game that he was still unsure whether it was his finale.
“I am unsure what is happening just yet but the decision reached is pretty clear. We will see what happens in the next couple of days and weeks,” Graham said.
Match: Titans v Dragons
Round 6 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
“It was a bit weird knowing that was potentially my last game but I just wanted to get a win for the team.”
The esteem with which Graham is held by his team-mates was obvious as they embraced the 34-year-old in the sheds after full-time.
"If that is his last game it is fitting to send him off with a win. It probably hasn’t been a highlight of his career his last two years here, but James is a warrior and you know every day he is going to put in his best," Dragons hooker Ben Hunt said.
"He has been an excellent role model for our young forwards with his work ethic. It doesn’t matter how sore or bruised he is, if he gets injured his first session back we will have a training run and he will do his own fitness at the end.
"He is always working harder than someone else. That is who he is and why he has played over 400 games."
Suncorp Stadium hosted fans for the for the first time this year in the NRL with 1930 people watching a match between two sides desperate to post their second win of the season.
The Titans’ finals hopes were grim before the match and are now on life support after injuries, errors and a series of poor last-tackle options cruelled their chances of building any momentum.
It was the first time the Dragons, who went to 11th on the ladder with the win, had put back-to-back injuries together since round six last year and a welcome turn of fortunes for under-pressure coach Paul McGregor and his team.
The increasing confidence of fullback Matt Dufty gave the Dragons an extra dimension in attack with a try assist and two line break assists in the first half showcasing his improving passing game.
Dufty ran for 156m with McGregor’s recent change to his spine once again paying off with halves Corey Norman and Adam Clune both creating tries with vision and slick long passes.
Norman floats a pass over to Ravalawa
Paul Vaughan and Josh Kerr gave the Dragons much needed momentum in their initial stints and the goal line defence of the away team repelled anything the Titans threw at them, which wasn’t all that much to be fair.
Ash Taylor gave the Titans an early 2-0 lead after he had been hit late by Kerr before superb centre play by Zac Lomax opened the scoring for the Dragons. Lomax surged through a gaping hole from a precision Dufty pass and a late right-foot step left Thompson grasping at air.
If there was one moment that threatened to turn the game the Titans way it was when Taylor and Brian Kelly contemptuously dragged Lomax by the collar for 10 metres and threw him into touch.
Jordan Pereira was put on report for a high shot on Thompson but the Titans poor last tackle options continued to cost them.
Phillip Sami was ruled to have knocked on from a Norman bomb and the Dragons five-eighth soon made the Titans pay with a cut-out pass to a flying Mikaele Ravalawa to score. A Lomax penalty gave the Dragons a 14-2 lead at the break.
Thompson failed to return after the break and his teammates started the second half without any urgency. The Dragons made them pay on the flanks again with a cut-out pass by half Clune sending Pereira over in the corner. Lomax landed the sideline conversion and at 20-2 the Dragons were coasting.
A late try to bench utility Tanah Boyd from a Taylor bomb revealed the Titans’ fight on a tough afternoon.
The Titans finished the game with a one-man bench after Sami (hamstring) and centre Young Tonumaipea (knee) both succumbed in the second half.
Boyd gets a late try for the Titans