Dragons defend decision to take the two
For three quarters of Friday night's clash with the Titans the Dragons appeared content to try and win by scoring in multiples of two but coach Paul McGregor says the decision to take shots at penalty goal was response to the battered and bruised bodies within the squad.
With their first use of the footy the Dragons busted straight through the middle of the Gold Coast defence, Jack de Belin putting Josh Dugan away on a long run that resulted in a penalty against Jarryd Hayne for holding down too long in the ruck.
St George Illawarra skipper Gareth Widdop stepped up and gave his side an early advantage by slotting the penalty goal from right in front and again opted to go for goal in the 26th minute on the back of a Tariq Sims bust to level the scores at 4-all.
They actually turned down an opportunity for two points later in the half when the Titans led 8-4 but McGregor said on the back of a five-day turnaround his side needed to be conscious of how they were faring physically when deciding to shoot for goal.
"When you haven't had the footy for a while and your big blokes are pretty tired you've got to game manage when to take and when not to," McGregor said of when to go for goal.
"First one was on offer in front so you want to go to the lead and then the second one we didn't have much possession and what we did we turned over.
"We knew that we had a few guys busted and we wanted to try and extend their stints so stoppages in play were pretty handy for us at the time.
"We like to score tries but," he added.
Scoring tries was problematic however with a new halves combination of Widdop and Kurt Mann who was wearing the No.7 jersey for the first time in his young career.
The Dragons completed only three of nine sets in what they refer to as "good ball" inside Titans territory and were guilty of making basic errors early in tackle counts while on the attack.
The introduction of Josh McCrone midway through the second half helped to straighten the attack almost immediately and while McGregor was happy with Mann's contribution, Widdop admitted that a new combination would take time to bed down.
"Any time there is a new partnership it takes a while but we've all got a job to do individually and 'Mary' (McGregor) makes the call and we go out and try and do it," Widdop said.
"Tonight we weren't good enough. We do need to be better but with time, practice, that's what happens.
"We're just not executing well. A few balls hitting the deck, getting dragged over the sideline, we're just not executing. We've got our shape and structure that we play to, we're just not nailing it at the moment.
"We'll get it right eventually."
Added McGregor: "I wasn't unhappy with Kurt.
"We made four line breaks and came up with one try.
"We've got finish them off when we make them."