It was a display that gave one final glimpse at the NRL player Dave Taylor could have been.
The Gold Coast giant, in the 169th and second last game of his NRL career, delivered a man-of-the-match display as the Titans snatched a 28-26 upset win on Sunday over St George Illawarra.
Taylor scored two tries, including the match-winner, had nine tackle busts, made a game-high 27 tackles and managed two offloads in a display of his freakish talents.
Sadly, it might be Taylor’s last memorable display on these shores in a career that offered so much and frustratingly delivered only sporadically.
The ex-Queensland and Australian representative will head to France at season’s end to join Super League team Catalans.
Titans coach Neil Henry believed Taylor’s critics had possibly been too harsh in their assessment of a player who had never quite won fans over at Brisbane, South Sydney or Gold Coast.
“His best is better than most people ever get to so you put a hard mark on him every time,” Henry said.
“How many guys do you expect to get out there and make five or six tackle breaks, 10 tackle breaks, every game and four offloads and score a couple of tries? At his best, he does that.
“He can kick a ball, did the kick-offs – he’s talented. So we put the bar very high for him.
“My hat off to him. He’s shown what he can do. He probably hasn’t been able to nail it constantly throughout his career. Maybe he’ll get to that stage, but I think we unfairly judge him at some times just because of how good he is.”
With skipper Nate Myles denied the chance to play his final home match before leaving the Titans to join Manly, Henry was thrilled with his team’s spirit in securing their third home win on the spin.
With Beau Falloon (knee), Eddy Pettybourne (ankle), Lachlan Burr (hip) and Josh Hoffman (groin) all struggling, the Titans overcame a 20-12 halftime deficit to run down a Dragons team which could have confirmed their top-eight spot with victory.
Dragons captain Ben Creagh said the display, as well as last weekend’s narrow victory over Penrith, showed the team was off the mark heading into the finals.
“Unfortunately, the past two weeks have been pretty similar. When we have got that lead, we haven’t put the foot down on the throat, to tell the truth. We’ve kind of gone into cruise control and that’s something we haven’t done before,” Creagh said.
“That’s something we’ve got to fix up because, this time of the year, we need to be building pressure.
“We need to be getting leads and holding the leads, scoring more points. Kicking long, chasing hard and playing tough footy.
“At times, we’re guilty of not doing that at the moment and hoping teams will go away. It doesn’t work like that at this level – not at rounds 25, 26 heading into finals footy.”
The Dragons also suffered an injury concern with Joel Thompson hurting a hamstring.