Broncos get better of tiring Dragons

Brisbane have reduced the Dragons to their second consecutive defeat tonight, a masterful display from a tired Darren Lockyer driving the home side to a 21-14 victory at Suncorp Stadium.

With both sides already weary prior to kick off, the Dragons left out no fewer than four players through injury from their originally named list. Brisbane were also missing Corey Parker (injury, Origin II) and Justin Hodges (ongoing injury). It would be the Dragons who started strongest, rookie Peni Tagive scoring the opener after just four minutes to give their side a 4-0 lead.

Evidence of Origin fatigue and niggling injuries became obvious as the first half unfolded, both Lockyer (Broncos) and Gasnier (Dragons) looking weary early before Hornby was then found hobbling in backplay. Jharal Yow Yeh and Josh Hoffman also had injury complaints throughout the first half.

Brisbane sprung to life late in the first half to storm into the lead, overcoming a number of unusual calls from both the on-field and video referees to pile on three tries in ten minutes to take a 14-4 lead at halftime, including a Yow Yeh double. The last of these tries showed a clear forward pass from Jack Reed to Yow Yeh, but the referee and sideline official both missed the call and ruled try.

The Dragons were first to score, fifteen minutes into the second stanza, when Gasnier exploded up the middle off a Darius Boyd pass, before finding Jamie Soward who turned on the afterburners to give the Dragons some hope. It wasn't long until the Broncos got themselves back in front though, Jack Reed showing exceptional talent to hit back very quickly. Wallace's conversion gave Brisbane a ten point buffer which they kept for a further ten minutes.

At the 70 minute mark, Matt Prior evaded some tired Brisbane defence to close the margin again, and while Soward's conversion went wide, the Dragons were back within striking distance. However, with a six point margin, Darren Lockyer made easy pickings of a field goal five minutes from time, confirming the 21-14 win to the home side.

It was Lockyer who controlled the play for much of the game, overcoming an early injury concern and slap to the eye from teammate Sam Thaiday. Next week Brisbane face the longest trip in the NRL, to NIB Stadium Perth when they play South Sydney. The Dragons' return to their other home ground, WIN Stadium Wollongong, on Monday night football in Round 16.

Match Details
Brisbane Broncos 21 defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 14
National Rugby League - Round 15 - Friday June 17, 2011 7:30pm
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Referee: Jared Maxwell and Gerard Sutton
Video Referee: Paul Simpkins
Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Luke Potter
Crowd: 34,185
Halftime: Brisbane Broncos 14 St George Illawarra Dragons 4

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Darren Lockyer (1 Field Goal)
2 Points - Jack Reed (1 Try)
1 Point - Mark Gasnier

BRISBANE BRONCOS (21)
Tries: David Hala, Jharal Yow Yeh (2), Jack Reed
Field Goals: Darren Lockyer (1/1)
Conversions: Peter Wallace (2/4)

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (14)
Tries: Jamie Soward, Ratu Tagive, Matt Prior
Conversions: Jamie Soward (1/3)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Toyota Cup: Dragons 22 Broncos 18.
Twitter: make sure you're following LeagueUnlimited for the latest updates. When discussing tonight's game, be sure to add the hashtag #nrlbristi!
Team changes: Lots of changes tonight, let's start with the Broncos. Corey Parker and Justin Hodges, as expected, are OUT. Jack Reed moves into the centres, Dunamis Lui to lock. Corey Norman and Dane Gagai come onto the bench.
The St George Illawarra side lose Brett Morris, Ben Creagh, Beau Scott and Dean Young. Into the side we have Peni Tagive, Trent Merrin, Michael Greenfield and Fien. The bench is now Green, Cuthbertson, McKinnon and Bosden. Click the "Team Lists" tab to check out the full lineups.
Both sides onto the park, here we are... Maxwell and Sutton get us underway. Dragons first with the ball!
2 min: Jharal Yow Yeh spills the first kick of the game. Unlucky there, looked backwards to me!
4 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Ratu Tagive. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward unsuccessful.
Brilliant stuff early from the big Red V. They shifted play right on one play before moving back left and creating an overlap. Quick hands got the ball out to Peni Tagive to open the scoring. Soward's radar, perfect for NSW on Wednesday, has completely fritzed tonight - the kick is wide.
St George Illawarra Dragons 4-0
6 min: INJURY: Ben Hornby is limping, a foot/ankle injury. Not looking good here, he may come off.
7 min: Gasnier moving down the right side, throws an offload inside and Peter Wallace knocks the ball down. Dragons scrum on the Broncos line.
9 min: Broncos away down the sideline but the Dragons wise to the task. They force their opposition into touch inside the Dragons half.
11 min: INJURY: While Hornby is now running better and has stayed on, Brisbane's Darren Lockyer is limping.
15 min: VIDEO REFEREE possible Dragons try, some champagne football leading to what looks like a Jason Nightingale four-pointer.
15 min: NO TRY, Nightingale dropped the ball into the leg of Peter Wallace. Knock-on called, scrum Broncos on their own 10m line.
19 min: VIDEO REFEREE and NO TRY for Brisbane, Beale claiming a four-pointer in the corner but not given as it was knocked on earlier in the set.
22 min: INJURY UPDATES: Jharal Yow Yeh and Josh Hoffman have been on their haunches and seeking assistance. Both still on the park, Lockyer also seems to be running okay now.
26 min: Brilliant hands from the Dragons on their own 30m line and the ball finds a speedy Tagive out wide, he sprints away to score, but unknown to him Maxwell has called it back for a forward pass. Brisbane scrum - in attacking position!
28 min: TRY
TRY Brisbane Broncos
Scored by David Hala. Conversion attempt by Peter Wallace successful.
Too big, too strong. David Hala crashes over for a bustling, brilliant try for the Brisbane Broncos. Peter Wallace assumes goalkicking duties in Corey Parker's absence, and puts his side in front from close to the posts.
Brisbane Broncos 6-4
35 min: VIDEO REFEREE possible Broncos try. Bomb goes up, Yow Yeh (Broncos) and Tagive (Dragons) both come down with it - but it's Yow Yeh with it by the looks. Should be more points for Brisbane here...
35 min: TRY
TRY Brisbane Broncos
Scored by Jharal Yow Yeh. Conversion attempt by Peter Wallace unsuccessful.
Yow Yeh is given the "meat-pie" as he came down with it cleanly after the initial jump. Wallace hooks it left, no goal.
Brisbane Broncos 10-4
36 min: Huge break down the right by Jharal Yow Yeh and he turns Boyd and Tagive inside out repeatedly, before being bought down just before the line. Soward concedes a penalty trying to slow the play-the-ball down.
38 min: TRY
TRY Brisbane Broncos
Scored by Jharal Yow Yeh. Conversion attempt by Peter Wallace unsuccessful.
Atrocious decision to award Jharal Yow Yeh his second try there, Jack Reed with a quite clear forward pass has gotten away with it. Wallace misses again.
Brisbane Broncos 14-4
HALFTIME at Suncorp Stadium and Brisbane are in front by a few more points than they should be, but are still the better team tonight. The Dragons look a bit unstructured and are playing a much more desperate and uncontrolled brand of football than we're used to seeing. Brisbane on the other hands are happy to defend it out and wait for their chances before pouncing on them. The game can still go either way, but if Brisbane get on the board early in the second half, the Dragons' task will be a tough one.
40 min: Second half underway, Broncos with first use.
42 min: INJURY: Ben Hornby is off, icing the aforementioned foot. He's unlikely to return tonight.
42 min: Nervous moments for the Dragons backs as they let a bomb bounce. Wallace regathers for Brisbane but he's wrapped up and it's a handover.
48 min: PENALTY Dragons, will help them move up the park and possibly play some attacking football.
50 min: VIDEO REFEREE possible try to Peni Tagive, has he bounced it or grounded it?
50 min: NO TRY. Tagive has bounced it, knock on. Half an hour left.
53 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Jamie Soward. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful.
Mark Gasnier through a huge hole, shimmy shimmy whoosh! He finds Jamie Soward who powers forward to cross near the posts. He converts his own four pointer to make it six. Deficit reduced to four!
Brisbane Broncos 14-10
56 min: Darren Lockyer NAILS a brilliant 40/20 to put Brisbane in perfect attacking position...
59 min: TRY
TRY Brisbane Broncos
Scored by Jack Reed. Conversion attempt by Peter Wallace successful.
Jack Reed benefits from some typical Lockyer class, finding the Dragons short on the left. Wallace grabs the conversion this time, easy stuff.
Brisbane Broncos 20-10
61 min: Brisbane make huge inroads, Yow Yeh breaks down the right, finds McCullough inside before Nightingale comes up with a huge tackle. The Dragons line sets but isn't onside and a tackle later they're penalised. Brisbane with another set here...
62 min: Well defended that set from the Dragons, Tagive shadows a fifth tackle grubber over the dead ball line. Dragons 20m restart.
64 min: Dragons make fantastic inroads into the opposition half and force a line drop-out but Gasnier loses it halfway through the set.
67 min: Both sides looking very, very tired. Jack Reed knocks on in the play the ball... no he doesn't, the Dragons defender has kicked it out. Poor decision against Brisbane there, Dragons get the scrum - the referees and touchies missed it.
69 min: Lockyer is falconed by a pass from Jason Nightingale. It goes into touch off Locky, Dragons scrum 20m from the Brisbane line.
70 min: TRY
TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Scored by Matt Prior. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward unsuccessful.
The Dragons move left and it's Matt Prior who clamours over some tired but committed Broncos defenders to score. Soward hits the posts with the conversion, no goal. Six in it with ten to go!
Brisbane Broncos 20-14
73 min: Dragons gain a repeat set inside Broncos territory, but Dan Hunt is pinged for offloading from the ground while tackled.
74 min: Brisbane are inside the Saints half here, looking to set for a one-pointer...
74 min: FIELD GOAL
FIELD GOAL Brisbane Broncos
Field goal attempt by Darren Lockyer successful.
He doesn't even need to be set for it, and he pops it over. Brilliant stuff to put Brisbane 7 points in front inside the last five minutes.
Brisbane Broncos 21-14
75 min: Short kickoff works for the Dragons, they'll attack now...
76 min: The Dragons spread it wide in a ploy to catch Brisbane short but they're bunched up out wide and it's not happening, Hoffman comes up with it after a knock on.
FULLTIME at Suncorp, Broncos 21 defeat Dragons 14 in a clash of the weary legs. Important game for the Broncos to win, while the men in the big Red V will be hoping the Storm and Sea Eagles don't win their clashes over the weekend.

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