St George Illawarra have booked their place in the 2021 NRL Telstra Women's Premiership grand final following a 24-18 win over the Titans at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
The Dragons trailed the Titans 6-0 early after a strong Steph Hancock carry close to the line before two tries through Madison Bartlett and Emma Tonegato set up a 10-6 lead.
It was a see-sawing second half with both sides coming up with costly errors and a number of stoppages due to foul play and captains challenges.
The Dragons extended their lead in the 45th minute when Jaime Chapman finished off a Rachael Pearson inside ball to cross next to the posts.
Tonegato great take
A high shot from Titans prop Brianna Clark on Tonegato allowed the Dragons to extend their lead before Keeley Davis put the game beyond reach with a grubber for herself in the 58th minute.
Jasmine Peters scored what looked to be a consolation try three minutes from full time which was converted from out wide by Tiana Raftstrand-Smith, then Hancock snatched her second under the posts inside the final minute to give the Titans a couple of players to try and steal a miracle win but the clock had the final say.
Earlier, the Titans received a boost with star outside back Evania Pelite cleared to play after missing last week with an ankle injury.
Pelite wasn't at her best with the ball in hand at left centre but produced a remarkable try-saver on Teagan Berry in the first half to deny points.
Pelite huge try saver
- The Titans completed at just 68% for the game, compared to the Dragons' 81%.
- Dragons winger Madison Bartlett made it five tries in five games this season after scoring in the first half.
- The Dragons enjoyed a 60-40 split of possession for the match.
- The Dragons led the line breaks 4-1.
- Keeley Davis crossed for the first try of her NRLW career.
- Destiny Brill was placed on report in the 25th minute.
- Veteran Titans prop Steph Hancock bagged her first ever NRLW try-scoring double.
- The Titans conceded 12 penalties compared to the Dragons' four.
Play of the game
Dragons centre Jaime Chapman got the side on the front foot early in the second half with a big run down the right edge before finishing off an inside play to extend the side's lead.
Chapman acrobatically extends the Dragons lead
What they said
"I expected to come in and make the finals as a minimum. To win this game today was a great result for the club. I feel like we've got another couple of gears [to go] but we were probably just tight and frantic in that first half because of the situation of the game. That's what a prelim final does for you." - Dragons coach Jamie Soward.
"We hurt ourselves, but we weren’t allowed to play footy for long periods of time. Things going against us was a big one. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a couple of decisions we made that hurt us at crucial times, but we also weren’t allowed to play footy for quite some time. I’m not sure which scoreline hurts me the most, the 24-18 or the 12-4 (penalty count)." - Titans coach Jamie Feeney.
NRLW Press Conference: Dragons v Titans - Semi Final, 2021
The Dragons will meet either the Broncos or Roosters in next week's NRLW grand final at Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe on Sunday.
For most of the Gold Coast players, they will return to the Queensland's state competition, the BMD Premiership, from as early as next week.