Slick Dragons rout Titans in Toowoomba
Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt put a woeful Gold Coast Titans to the sword in a 54-8 thumping in Toowoomba that has St George Illawarra ensconced as early Telstra Premiership competition leaders.
The Dragons were far from their best and never out of a canter but didn't need to be, and that is the biggest worry for Titans coach Garth Brennan.
Gold Coast five-eighth Kane Elegy dropped the ball from the kick-off and that set the tone for what was to follow from the next set of six, where Widdop and Hunt combined to send a flying Matt Dufty over.
Elgey was all at sea in the defensive line and appeared to have been rocked by his early error.
The Titans hit back through an Ash Taylor short ball to Michael Gordon and the match as in the balance in the 29th minute with the Dragons leading 10-8.
Three minutes later the Dragons took the game away from the Titans with three tries in as many minutes.
The worrying sign for Titans was all three were executed like training drills as the Dragons went through the Gold Coast right-side defence like a hot knife through butter.
Match: Titans vs Dragons
Venue: Clive Berghofer Stadium
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Hunt and Widdop linked with ease to send Tim Lafai over. Then Tariq Sims had a wander about on the fifth tackle, Hunt and Lafai chimed in and Dufty did the rest.
A Dufty bust then led to Lafai try. It was as easy as shelling peas and at 26-8 at half-time the game was all but over.
The Titans missed tackles at will and kicked the ball dead from a restart in front of 7,297 fans at the Clive Berghofer Stadium.
It was a designated Titans home game but the sea of red and white in the crowd revealed the majority of the support was not with them.
Jack de Belin was sin-binned early in the second half but the Dragons could have played with 10 men and still beaten the Titans.
Hunt and Widdop combined again to send Nene Macdonald over in the 53rd minute and the Dragons led 32-8.
The Dragons try in the 58th minute was sheer class.
Hunt split the Titans and looked to his right where Widdop was pointing to put through a sneaky chip. Hunt did exactly that, Widdop controlled the ball with his foot, and scored a cracker.
Dragons prop Paul Vaughan chased a Widdop grubber through late on but the massacre was not yet complete.
Widdop booted long, Dufty chased at speed, regathered and scored.
Another Widdop grubber at the death was chased by Lafai and planted with ease and you wondered whether there were really two teams out there.
Dufty and Lafai both had hat-tricks for their afternoon's work.
The configuration of the regional ground meant that the press box could hear everything Dragons coach Paul McGregor was saying next door. Despite the scoreline he was far from happy with elements of his side's game including the kick-chase and defensive pressure.
Brennan arrived on the Gold Coast to usher in new dawn but from what the Titans dished up in Toowoomba on a sunny Sunday afternoon the nightmares of the past are still lingering well and truly.