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Late Sexton try gets Titans home in afternoon thriller

Recalled playmaker Toby Sexton enjoyed a special return to the NRL, scoring a late try as the Titans ran down the Dragons 20-18 in a thriller on the Gold Coast.

The Dragons appeared to have had the game won when Ben Hunt crossed to break a 14-14 deadlock with seven minutes remaining before the Titans had three sets on the visitors' try-line for Sexton to bust through on the left edge. 

Gold Coast held on from another final raid by the Dragons until Hunt, who was again everywhere for the Red V on Sunday, spilt the ball on the siren to hand the Titans their third win of the season. 

It was a gritty win from Justin Holbrook's side, who kept their composure and played an up-tempo style in attack that always troubled the Dragons throughout the contest.

Earlier, both teams were guilty of butchering at least two tries each in the first half in an otherwise fairly even contest that saw scores locked at 8-8.

Redemption for Sexton

Tensions boiled over throughout the match which kicked off when Francis Molo was sin-binned for high contact on Moeaki Fotuaika in the fourth minute. 

The Dragons held on while a man down, denying the Titans twice down the left edge before crossing first via a leaping Zac Lomax, who won a contest with Jayden Campbell in the air. 

Campbell got one back five minutes later for his side, however, when he linked with Sexton with an old school wrap around to cross under the sticks.

Lomax grabs a screamer

Penalty goals for both sides levelled the scores at the break before the Dragons were first to strike in the second via Mikaele Ravalawa, who cut back inside to beat four defenders to the line. 

What Ravalawa could do was only matched by his opposite number Phil Sami 11 minutes later with the Titans winger darting back inside the play himself to get the scores back even with over a quarter of the game to play. 

It set up a remarkable finish with the Titans storming home late and in doing so getting some revenge over the Round 1 result in March. 

Match snapshot

  • Francis Molo was placed on report and sin-binned for a high shot on Moeaki  Fotuaika in the fourth minute - the Dragons holding on in defence during this period. 
  • The Titans were denied tries on four occasions by the Dragons throughout the contest while the home side pulled off four try-savers of their own. 
  • The Titans made six line breaks to three with the Dragons missing a whopping 53 tackles in the result.
  • Titans winger Phil Sami was untouchable throughout the afternoon, racking up 275 metres with 17 tackle busts, three line breaks and a try. 
  • Dragons halfback Ben Hunt has now scored nine tries in his past 11 games against the Titans.
  • The Dragons have now lost their last four games at Cbus Super Stadium and their first game in a decade on the Easter long weekend.

Play of the Game

Titans winger Phil Sami has spiders on him all afternoon with his light stepping on the right edge causing the Dragons havoc. His second half try to get the Titans back level were among the highlights in attack.

Speed, strength and a killer step

What they Said

"It was a tough game for 80 minutes. We knew what St George were going to bring, a really physical game and there wasn't going to be much in it. As a coach I'm happy [with the defensive effort]. The Tanah Boyd tackle is the thing that wins you games. Toby has waited for his opportunity and got it. He stepped up for us and played really well. [Kieran Foran] is a good chance next week so we'll see how we go this week at training." - Titans coach Justin Holbrook

Titans: Round 6

"We were a bit clunky all night... a lot of energy and a lot of effort in a tight game but we gave away a lot of penalties and leaked them up at our end. They scrambled really well but we didn't execute the way we needed to at vital times. We couldn't clean it up once we got to 18-14. I thought we earnt the right to have the game more in our control by that time." - Dragons coach Anthony Griffin

Dragons: Round 6

What's next 

The Titans will dust themselves off and prepare for a match against the Broncos in six days time back at Cbus Super Stadium. Jojo Fifita (knee) is a chance of making a return but Kieran Foran and AJ Brimson are unlikely. St George Illawarra on the road again, this time up against the Raiders at GIO Stadium.

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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