Dragons v Titans: Five key points
The Dragons' finals hope received a huge boost with fill-in halfback Kurt Mann sparking the Red V to a crushing 42-16 win over a Titans side that can't wait for the season to finish.
Finals back on track
A spot in the finals looked highly unlikely after the Dragons dropped back-to-back games to the struggling Knights and Rabbitohs, but after a difficult fortnight, the Red V roared back into top-eight calculations with a huge win over the Titans that leaves them momentarily in eighth spot.
Currently level on 26 competition points with the Panthers, the Dragons must realistically win two of their remaining games – including a Round 25 showdown in Penrith – if they want to feature in the post-season.
"Every game is important from here on," Dragons hooker Cameron McInnes told NRL.com.
"It's all ahead of us, so if we win every game then we're every chance of playing finals."
Leaky defence sinks the Titans
It wasn't quite as bad as their 54-0 loss to the Broncos at home last week but there are still plenty of defensive issues after Gold Coast missed 39 tackles and conceded seven tries on Saturday to drop to 16th in terms of points conceded in 2017.
Titans coach Neil Henry said a lack of confidence and ill-discipline didn't help their cause, while there were worrying signs all over the field with both edges and their ruck badly exposed at times.
"We haven't controlled our possession and that's a key. There was a 7-3 penalty count at half-time so there's a bit of a lack of discipline and a bit of frustration creeping in," Henry said.
"When you've been down and you're a bit low on troops, it doesn't take much for you to lose a bit of confidence and then you try to invent ways to be creative and score points. We just need to stick to what we know works and not vary from what we do and do well.
"There were soft tries around dummy-half and goal-line defence which was disappointing but you've got to be a realist with where we're at at the moment, and it's a pretty tough position."
Fantastic first half
Dragons coach Paul McGregor has described his side's first 40 minutes as their best of the season after they effectively killed off the contest with 22-unanswered points before the half-time siren.
The first-half stats were alarming with the Red V enjoying 65 per cent of possession while they also completed 95 per cent of their sets and ran for a staggering 1103 metres compared to Gold Coast's 543.
Another week, another injury for the Titans
They've been plagued by injuries throughout 2017, and the Titans' casualty ward grew larger with Neil Henry confirming representative prop Jarrod Wallace had injured his medial ligament early in the second half.
The club also put out a tweet saying five-eighth Kane Elgey had injured his sternum while it was clear halfback Ash Taylor wasn't 100 per cent after hurting his knee against the Broncos.
"Jarrod Wallace has hurt his medial a bit and a couple of guys went in underdone," Henry said.
"We're pretty low on troops at the moment with Koni (Konrad Hurrell) out and a few other guys out for the season. It's been a bit tough but there were still passages of play we were disappointed in."
Kurt once again proves that he is the Mann
He's played all over the park in 2017 but Kurt Mann might just have locked down the No.7 jumper after putting in a star showing with two tries and plenty of scintillating carries against the Titans.
Brought in to replace Josh McCrone (groin), Mann opened the scoring and scored the last try of the game in what was easily his best performance of the season.
His coach all but confirmed in the post-match media conference that Mann had done enough to keep the No.7 jersey for another week, while his halves partner, Gareth Widdop, was full of praise for the way in which he stepped into the role.
"He's been training there a lot this year and I thought he did very well today," Widdop said. "He's been in and out of positions all year, but every time he's put on a jersey he's tried his hardest."