The Titans have snapped a five-game losing streak and escaped with a 20-16 win over the Dragons with just one minute left of Golden Point.
Jamayne Isaako crossed in the corner for the matchwinning try after an error-riddled nine minutes of Golden Point which included several field goal attempts.
The Titans started off on the right foot, opening up the scoring in the sixth minute through AJ Brimson.
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They were handed a golden opportunity when Dragons veteran Josh McGuire was sin-binned for a professional foul.
But the Dragons not only repelled the Titans, they scored.
St George Illawarra were awarded a penalty and ignored calls from the bench to take a shot at goal and it paid off. Ben Hunt backed himself and threw a long pass to Moses Suli who sent winger Mat Feagai over for a four-pointer.
However the Titans hit back off the boot of Toby Sexton just seven minutes later to snatch the lead.
Sexton put a grubber in for Beau Fermor who came out of no where to ground the ball. Dragons fullback Tyrell Sloan didn’t buy the grounding and scooped up the ball to run 70 metres before being dragged down by opposing No.1 Jayden Campbell.
It ended up being a waste because the bunker eventually awarded Fermor the try.
The Dragons responded with a try and penalty goal. It looked like they would escape with the win until Jarrod Wallace crashed over in the 73rd minute.
The game ticked over into Golden Point and dragged for nine minutes until Isaako crossed for the matchwinner.
3 BIG HITS
TITANS COME UP TRUMPS IN ‘ROLLERCOASTER’ FINISH
The Titans came out on top in what ended up being one of the most thrilling finishes to a game this season.
It took nine minutes of Golden Point for the matchwinning points to be scored. There were several attempts at field goal, two Tyrell Sloan errors and knock on's from Ben Hunt, Talatau Amone and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui before Jamayne Isaako finally crossed in the corner.
Fox League commentator Andrew Voss summed it up best when he said: “What a rollercoaster this is… it’s been exhausting.”
Greg Alexander shared the sentiment.
“What an incredible finish that was,” he said.
“An incredible Golden Point period where you have to say the field goal setups weren’t the best from either sides.”
Cooper Cronk was just as stunned by the finish.
“I know there’s an epic game in the Panthers and Storm just around the corner but that was an absolute cracker,” he said.
“Two teams that were under a bit of pressure, Jayden Campbell comes in from a long lay-off through injury and sets up this moment, skips to the outside and Jamayne Isaako, who had plenty of opportunities to win this game with his right foot, gets on the outside of Dragons defence.
“Don’t we have some great finishers in this competition because Jamayne Isaako, congratulations you have just iced the game for your club.”
The man of the moment, Isaako, spoke of the “unbelievable” moment after the game, conceding that is was “now or never” for the Titans.
“The boys just told me to stay out on the wing. I had two attempts at field goal and missed them both so we were going to go for a try and I was lucky enough to get the pass off AJ,” he said.
“I saw pretty much their whole team coming across and I thought if I don’t back myself with this corner it’s now or never.”
CAMPBELL’S ‘OUTSTANDING’ TITANS RETURN
Jayden Campbell returned to the Titans’ 17 for the first time since Round 3 and Benji Marshall believes the young gun fullback had an immediate impact on his teammates.
“The inclusion of Jayden Campbell, for me, has been outstanding,” Marshall said.
“He’s added a lot to their attack, Sexton’s kicking game has been great and they’ve build a lot of pressure – something we haven’t seen (for a while).
“I think he takes the pressure off AJ Brimson or Toby Sexton having to come up with something special in attack and he just glides across the park.
“He’s not a player who typically has to play to a game plan, he just plays to the contest and what he sees. That’s what I love about him.”
Campbell finished the game with 217 running metres, 11 tackle busts and one linebreak. Meanwhile, Sexton reaped the rewards of Campbell’s presence too with the young No.7 setting up two tries and also getting two linebreak assists.
The 22-year-old was a headache for Dragons all night long but when he busted through five players and ran 55 metres in the second half he really put the pressure on.
“That is so good from Jayden Campbell. That kid has run through five defenders – that is so exciting,” Fox League commentator Andrew Voss said.
“I’m loving the acceleration that Jayden Campbell has brought to this contest,” Cooper Cronk said.
“Whether he’s accelerating at the line or sweeping out the back, he is moving quick and putting the Dragons’ edge defence under all sorts of pressure.
“It’s his first game back from a rib injury and he has not hesitated. He’s gone searching for contact and he’s taking himself to this game. It’s been an outstanding return from Jayden Campbell.”
Campbell’s fingerprints really were on the game from the start to the very end – including in the lead-up to the matchwinning try.
“Jayden Campbell was certainly the difference for the Titans,” Corey Parker said.
“He’s been missed over recent weeks, he turns up this evening and comes up with some amazing plays for his team.’
DRAGONS FIND THEIR ‘GOAL-LINE GRIT’
The Dragons conceded seven tries last week against the Storm, but it seems they learnt a tough lesson from that 42-6 loss because they showed an incredible amount of “goal line” grit early against the Titans.
The Titans had five repeat sets in a 16-minute period early in the game but the Dragons repelled them every time despite the startling stats in Gold Coast’s favour.
The Titans had 90 per cent possession in that period, 93 per cent of the territory and 21 tackles inside the Dragons’ 20.
“The Dragons have been resilient, they’re doing exactly what Anthony Griffin would like to see,” Cooper Cronk said.
“After their poor performance last week against the Melbourne Storm, they are showing some goal line grit.”
Josh McGuire was then sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul in an untimely blow for the Dragons. But they not only held out the Titans, they scored a try of their own.
Greg Alexander was impressed with how the Red V were able to manage the game while being one-man down.
“The fact that McGuire was off the field (when the Dragons scored) they soaked up the time really cleverly during that period,” he said.
Titans: 1. Jayden Campbell 19. Corey Thompson 2. Phillip Sami 4. Esan Marsters 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. AJ Brimson 7. Toby Sexton 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Erin Clark 10. Jarrod Wallace 11. Isaac Liu 12. Beau Fermor 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Sam Lisone 16. Herman Ese’ese 17. Sam McIntyre. Replacement player: 21 Jaimin Joliffe
Dragons: 21. Tyrell Sloan 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 1. Moses Mbye 15. Blake Lawrie 11. Jack Bird 12. Josh McGuire 10. Jack de Belin 13. Tariq Sims 14. Jayden Sullivan 16. Aaron Woods 20. Jack Gosiewski. Replacement player: 19. Cody Ramsey
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