Dragons' Pommie warhorse celebrates 400th game in style
ST GEORGE Illawarra have all but consigned Gold Coast to the NRL wooden spoon after a drought-breaking, face-saving 40-28 win over the Titans.
It wasn't always pretty but the Dragons snapped a five-game losing streak to drag themselves six competition points clear of the Titans with four rounds remaining.
Due to face the Titans again on the Gold Coast in next month's final round, the Dragons had themselves been in danger of collecting their first spoon.
But Red V fans can breathe easier after Paul McGregor's struggling side celebrated James Graham's 400th top-level game with a seven-tries-to-five victory on Saturday at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
Graham took a lighthearted dig at retiring teammate Jeremy Latimore after admitting to having nerves leading into Saturday's clash.
"I was a bit nervous last night, I was struggling to get to sleep, so I read Jeremy Latimore's retirement post and I was out like a light. Thank you for that, Jeremy," Graham said.
But while it was Graham's milestone match, it was another Englishman and St George Illawarra's four State of Origin stars who stole the show.
Skipper Gareth Widdop, in only his third game back from four months out with a shoulder injury, had a hand or boot in four of their tries and slotted six goals from seven attempts.
Origin reps Paul Vaughan, Tyson Frizell, Ben Hunt and Tariq Sims, the latter bagged a double, all crossed for tries as the Dragons ran away with the game after leading 18-12 at half-time.
But sadly, the lowest Kogarah crowd in the joint venture's 20-year history - a paltry 6532 fans - turned out as the Dragons put the Titans to the sword with a 15-minute, second-half, point-scoring blitz.
The Titans still had hope after winger Phillip Sami finished off an entertaining try featuring 10 sets of hands with half-an-hour remaining.
But the Dragons' sixth strike, via Euan Aitken in the 58th minute, put the issue beyond doubt as further tries to Sami and Ryley Jacks merely proved consolations for the Titans.
LISTEN! Brett Finch and Paul Kent are back in the studio with Matty Johns to dig out some fun memories for 70's Retro Round, offer suggestions to help the southern Queensland teams get back on track, analyse Kalyn Ponga's mega-deal and Kenty details his Tuesday feud with Ivan Cleary.
After being trounced 58-6 last week by the Sydney Roosters, the Titans have leaked 98 points in their past two outings and remain four points adrift of the resurgent Canterbury seemingly destined to finish last.
Compounding Gold Coast's woes was having two players placed on report, with Tyrone Peachey in strife for a suspect second-half tackle on Korbin Sims and centre Brian Kelly booked for going high on Patrick Kaufusi.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 40 (T Sims 2 E Aitken T Frizell B Hunt J Saab P Vaughan tries G Widdop 6 goals) bt GOLD COAST 28 (P Sami 2 R Jacks B Kelly K Proctor tries T Peachey 4 goals) at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Referee: Henry Perenara, Liam Kennedy. Crowd: 6,532.
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