St George Illawarra have all but consigned Gold Coast to the NRL wooden spoon with 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.
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, who bagged a double, all crossed for tries as the Dragons ran away with the game after only leading 18-12 at halftime.
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.
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.