The Brisbane Broncos have won the battle of the fallen empires, defeating the St. George Illawarra Dragons 22-6 in a dour contest at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium this evening.
Both teams entered the match having lost their first round matches in contrasting circumstances.
The Broncos gave up a half-time lead to lose to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and the Dragons proving no match for the Melbourne Storm in Melbourne.
Thus, the heat was on for both clubs to deliver in this crucial match.
It was the Broncos who got on the scoreboard first.
It came in the sixth minute through Ben Hannant. The Broncos received the ball after the Dragons wasted the first of what would be so many chances after Jamie Soward lost the ball receiving a pass from Jason Nightingale who produced a magnificent run coming out of the Dragons’ own half.
The Broncos led 6-0 after the try to Hannant, but the Dragons would not give in and they would dominate the next period of the match.
Trent Merrin scored what appeared to be their first try nearing 20 minutes, but the try was dismissed after the Dragons were booked for obstruction.
Mere minutes later, Ben Creagh had a try disallowed after the final pass from Nathan Fien was ruled to have gone forward.
It was third time lucky when Michael Weyman scored the team’s first and only try ten minutes out from half-time.
That capped off a dominant 10 minutes from the Dragons when they continually pinned the Broncos in their own half and forced them into errors. Five minutes before half-time, Brett Morris produced a trademark run down field, which ended in Justin Hodges getting sin-binned for a professional foul.
This reduced the Broncos to twelve men, but the Dragons could not take advantage and the half-time score stood at 6-all.
Last week, it was the Broncos being held scoreless in the second half. This week, it was the reverse, with the Broncos not conceding a point after half time.
Justin Hodges returned from the sin-bin just in time for the Broncos’ second try of the match, through Josh Hoffman, eight minutes after the resumption.
The unsuccessful conversion made the score 10-6.
Time and time again, the Dragons had their chances, but could not find the equaliser.
The Broncos made them pay in the 65th minute through a try to David Stagg.
The successful conversion from Scott Prince made it 16-6, meaning the Dragons had to score twice to force extra time, which they were unable to do.
Corey Norman scored a brilliant try with five minutes remaining to give the match its’ final score line of 22-6.
Whatever criticism the Broncos copped for their dismal second half display against Manly last week seemed to hurt the players and so they responded with a brilliant performance tonight.
Anthony Griffin must no doubt be happy with his players as they attempt to build on this victory in the coming weeks.
Though the scoreboard does not reflect the nature of the match, the Dragons’ performance wasn’t that bad.
However they missed so many chances, especially in the first half, leading to their eventual downfall.
Two disallowed tries in the first half did not help their cause. Perhaps if they had been more disciplined they could have won the game.
Tonight’s loss means that the Dragons have lost their first two matches of a season for the first time since 2006. And surely now, questions will start arising as to when the club’s first victory will come.
The Broncos have a tough match next week against the new-look Roosters next Saturday night in Sydney, while the Dragons have an even tougher assignment, facing the Canberra Raiders in Canberra, where they have not won since 2000.