St George Illawarra have recorded their first win to start the year, overcoming an early deficit to beat the Titans 32-18 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah.
Dragons halfback Ben Hunt and fullback Tyrell Sloan were among the stars in their first showing of the season with the side clearly putting their Charity Shield performance behind them and enjoying the benefit of an additional week off.
The Titans shot out of the blocks with tries to Alofiana Khan-Pereira and Sam Verrills setting up a 12-2 lead but their advantage was evaporated by half-time with the Dragons running in three tries in eight minutes before the break.
Dragons recruit Jacob Liddle finished off a Sloan break up the middle in the 31st minute before Hunt weaved his way to the line via a Zac Lomax offload shortly after.
St George Illawarra hit the lead when Mikaele Ravalawa crossed eight seconds before half-time as poor discipline started to prove costly for the visitors.
Hunt leads the way
It continued after the break with Tanah Boyd unable to find touch from a penalty which enabled Hunt to send Sloan over from close range in the following set.
More ill-discipline allowed Lomax to take a second penalty goal of the game as the Titans' kicking game into the breeze was questionable.
Justin Holbrook opted for Jayden Campbell's injection into the game with 15 minutes to go but it meant little when Blake Lawrie crossed moments later to set up a dominant lead.
A try to Tino Fa'asuamaleaui with 10 minutes left flattered the scoreboard as the Dragons notched up a comfortable win.
Match: Dragons v Titans
Round 2 -
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
- Gold Coast led by 10 points early before the Dragons ran in the next five tries for a 20-point turnaround.
- The Dragons have now won four of their past five games at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
- The Titans have not won twice to start a season since 2010 with that statistic now extending to another year.
- Alofiana Khan-Pereira opened the try-scoring with the first four-pointer of his NRL career.
- Sam Verrills got on the board for his first try in Titans colours and in his 50th game but struggled late with a neck issue.
- Dragons centre Zac Lomax kicked his 200th career goal in the victory.
- The Dragons enjoyed 60 per cent of possession in the victory and completed at 82 per cent.
- Blake Lawrie scored the second try of his NRL career when he barged over the line in the 66th minute.
- Dragons debutant Toby Couchman endured a mixed evening, getting through 34 minutes of play before failing a HIA after picking up a head knock.
- Mikaele Ravalawa ran a game-high 212 metres in the win which included seven tackle busts.
- Kieran Foran and Tanah Boyd had a tough evening with the boot in wet and breezy conditions.
Play of the game
The combination of Ben Hunt and Tyrell Sloan on Sunday night will leave plenty with optimism the Dragons can shock a few in 2023. Sloan was at his very best alongside Hunt with the pair's effort to link for the fourth try of the evening among the highlights.
Sloan hits it at top speed
What they said
"I thought we did really well to get to 12-2 and then just couldn’t control them through the middle and then couldn’t control the game. We did a lot of dumb things and put a lot of pressure on the middles. We made it very hard for ourselves getting things wrong. It's a learning curve and hopefully we can bounce back next week." - Titans coach Justin Holbrook.
"I thought our first 20 minutes was pretty good, we were just trying to get there too quick with the ball and it’s always hard. The hard thing about [having] the bye is you’re coming in fresh and can’t get a feel for the contact or the rhythm. Once we locked onto the game and got some rhythm and momentum I thought it was really clinical for 50 minutes." - Dragons coach Anthony Griffin.
NRL Press Conference: Dragons v Titans - Round 2, 2023
Both sides have a six-day turnaround and will feature in Queensland next Saturday night. The Titans take on Melbourne at Cbus Super Stadium for their first home game of the year while the Dragons will meet the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. Jack de Belin (calf) could be back for the Dragons while Brian Kelly will have served his suspension for the Titans.