NSW Origin star Trent Merrin scored a crucial try before leaving with a knee injury as St George Illawarra beat Gold Coast 19-18 on Sunday at the CBUS Super Stadium in Robina.
Merrin ran over the tackle of Titans debutant Daniel Mortimer before touching down but, shortly afterwards, was helped off the ground and did not return.
The Titans’ hopes of a comeback were hindered by another Origin player Nate Myles being sin-binned for complaining to the referee about a block before the try.
Gareth Widdop’s field goal eight minutes from time extended the lead to seven points, which proved crucial when Brad Takairangi ran down the left sideline for a try and Greg Bird converted to bring the Titans within a point.
In a battle between two out-of-form sides, with the Titans having lost five straight and the Dragons boasting just one win in six, the 12,189 in attendance perhaps unsurprisingly witnessed a scrappy affair.
After four minutes, Benji Marshall took the Titans’ line on before feeding Leeson Ah Mau outside him for the first try of the match.
Shortly afterwards, though, Kevin Gordon intercepted an overly ambitious long Marshall pass to the right wing and raced 85 metres to touch down.
These moments typified an erratic display from Marshall. As well as some sublime passes and kicks, his errant feed gave away a scrum to the Titans and one of his high kicks went ten metres backwards.
The Titans went in front when Mortimer set up Mark Minichiello for a try before Josh Dugan shrugged off two challengers to dive over the line and ensure the scores were level 12-12 at halftime.
The win brings the Dragons level on points with the 12th-placed Titans, who also lost Ben Ridge to a concussion following a clash of heads with Will Matthews.