NRL Magic Round 2022: Gold Coast Titans defeat St George Illawarra in golden point thriller

The Titans have breathed life back into their season after Jamayne Isaako, who had missed two field goal attempts, slid over in the corner to sink the Dragons in a golden point thriller.

Jamayne Isaako turned Harry Houdini as the Gold Coast Titans kept their season alive with a 20-16 Magic Round miracle win against the Dragons.

Isaako scored a controversial try in the 89th minute of the Suncorp Stadium spectacular on Saturday night to snap a five-game losing streak in golden point.

The win saw the Titans avoid a 2-8 record, which would have been their worst start to a season since they collected the 2019 wooden spoon.

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And it was Broncos recruit Isaako who was the hero after being recalled to the team following two weeks on the sidelines.

“It was unbelievable,” Isaako said after crashing over in the corner and nearly spilling the ball. “The boys told me to stay out on the wing. I had two attempts at field goal and missed them both so they said we’re going to go for the try.

Jamayne Isaako scored the matchwinner in golden point for the Titans. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Jamayne Isaako scored the matchwinner in golden point for the Titans. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

“The whole team was coming across and I had to back myself for the corner. It was now or never.”

In a slugfest under driving rain, scores were locked 16-16 after 80 minutes.

Extra-time exposed the organisational deficiencies of both teams and neither looked like winning until Isaako struck out wide to salvage a much-needed victory in front of 41,593 fans.

TITANS BACK FROM THE DEAD

The Titans enlisted mindset coach Garie Dooley to address the team midweek and the players must have listened to his advice to run hard and tackle hard.

Captain Tino Fa’asuamaleaui set the tone for the Titans when he smashed Dragons rival Jack de Belin in the opening set and was one of the Gold Coast’s best with 201m and 28 tackles.

He was superbly supported by fellow Maroons forward Moeaki Fotuaika (181m) and former Origin prop Jarrod Wallace scored a crucial try to send the game to golden point.

Tino Fa’asuamaleaui charges into the Dragons’ defence. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui charges into the Dragons’ defence. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Fullback Jayden Campbell made a noticeable impact in his return, beating seven defenders in one stunning run and finishing with 217m and 11 tackle busts in tricky conditions.

Despite their improved effort and enthusiasm, the same old issues came back to haunt the Titans. While they had ample field position the Titans struggled to be an attacking threat and blew numerous opportunities to sink the Dragons.

Their tenacity kept them in the contest and they were rewarded with a crucial win heading into next Sunday’s clash with the Sharks.

“It was nerve-wracking, I’m thrilled to get the win,” Titans coach Justin Holbrook said.

“We’re coming off five losses and the game was really good in tough conditions. It was exactly what we needed.

“We’ve had a lot of losses but our spine has only really played a game-and-a-half. Everyone got confident during the week when we went back to what we practised.

“We had to get it right and needed all 17 to play with that intent.”

The Titans snappde their five-game losing streak with victory against the Dragons. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
The Titans snappde their five-game losing streak with victory against the Dragons. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

DRAGONS FEEL THE HEAT

The Dragons were behind the eight-ball from the get-go as the Titans dominated possession and field position. They managed to overcome the first half sin-binning of Josh McGuire in his 250th game and went into the break trailing 10-4.

Moses Suli scored in the 70th minute to give the Dragons what looked likely to be a match-winning lead, only for Zac Lomax to miss a conversion he should have slotted for an eight-point lead.

The Dragons lacked direction in golden point and paid the price when fullback Tyrell Sloan refused to catch high bombs, gifting the Titans an opportunity they didn’t miss.

“He will be all right, he will learn from that and we will help him,” Dragons coach Anthony Griffin said. “It’s obviously part of his development. There were a lot of other things that happened in that game from experienced players as well.

“It was tough, we took a real beating in the first 25 minutes and that drained us a lot.

“I couldn’t have been prouder of our effort to go back and get control of that game and dominate the second half. We found a way to keep inviting them back in.

“To get beaten by a fingernail in the 90th minute is a hard one.”

Moses Suli put the Dragons in front in the 70th minute. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Moses Suli put the Dragons in front in the 70th minute. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

MIND OVER MATTER: TITANS’ LAST-DITCH BID TO SAVE SEASON

Justin Holbrook has enlisted a motivational speaker and mindset coach in a desperate bid to spark the Titans and save the Gold Coast’s season.

Leadership guru Garie Dooley addressed the Titans’ playing squad on Thursday ahead of the Gold Coast’s Magic Round clash with the Dragons at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

The Titans were on a five-game losing streak before toppling the Dragons.

Coach Holbrook has made five changes to last week’s side that was smashed 44-16 by the Roosters and has also turned to a team whisperer for help.

Dooley claims to be able to help move teams from “fake to phenomenal” and has conducted numerous culture crafting sessions with the Titans.

Now, Holbrook has turned to Dooley as he desperately searches for a way to rescue the Titans’ sinking season – and his advice was simple.

“We don’t want to panic, when you go on a losing streak most teams panic and we don’t want to be doing that right now, our season is falling away,” said returning winger Phil Sami.

Beau Fermor heads for line.
Beau Fermor heads for line.

“We had a good meeting yesterday with Garie Dooley and that was the main thing, simplifying things like running hard and tackling hard.

“It was literally don’t panic and simplify things. If we run hard and tackle hard and do the one-percenters right that will go a long way.

“We are in a hard spot. It’s easier said than done but hopefully it starts tomorrow.”

If running and tackling hard are the secrets to saving the Titans’ season then Holbrook may be wondering how things on the Gold Coast have gone so wrong.

After last year’s promising finals appearance, the Titans are sitting in the bottom four and going backwards at a rate of knots.

Holbrook recalled fullback Jayden Campbell, shifted AJ Brimson to five-eighth and axed wingers Corey Thompson and Greg Marzhew in favour of Jamayne Isaako and Sami.

Originally published as NRL Magic Round 2022: Gold Coast Titans defeat St George Illawarra in golden point thriller

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