Dragons deny Broncos at the death

Round 15
Brisbane Broncos 16 v St George Illawarra Dragons 18
at Suncorp Stadium
Referees: Tony Archer

Match Summary:

The St George Illawarra Dragons have recorded a last-minute victory over a valiant Brisbane Broncos team at Suncorp Stadium to kick off Round 15 action in sensational style.

Every stat indicates that the Broncos should have won this match by plenty. The Dragons made 21 errors and only completed 51% of their sets, but still managed to hang in against a visibly fatigued Broncos side. The home team were also hit by a spate of injuries during the match, with Ben Hannant and Ian Lacey both unable to return after leaving the field.

Despite their high error rate, the Dragons produced some sparkling touches in the first half to take a 12-8 lead into the sheds. This lead was quickly reigned in by the Broncos with a try to boom rookie Greg Eastwood in the 42nd minute, and Darren Lockyer added two further penalties to push the Broncos out to a 16-12 lead with only minutes remaining in the match.

And then came the sensational finish - firstly, Maroons hero Sam Thaiday came up with a costly knock-on that gave the Dragons the field position they so depserately needed. From the ensuing set, Mathew Head chipped to the corner, Brett Morris flew high to claim the ball, and somehow managed to bend around several Bronco defenders to claim the try. Aaron Gorrell was handed the kicking duties despite Head having kicked the previous two goals, and landed a beaut of a conversion to claim the victory for the Dragons.

The Broncos were extremely unlucky to lose this match tonight - it was an enormous effort just two days after an Origin encounter. Their forwards led the way with a dominant performance, especially their two book-ends Civoniceva & Webcke. Darren Lockyer continued his rich vein of recent form, and Shaun Berrigan produced some classy touches out wide.

For the Dragons, Ben Creagh shone brightly and was well backed up with strong games from Mark Gasnier and Colin Best. Mathew Head produced a mixed performance in his return match, with patches of genius combined equally with patches of rustiness.

Brisbane Broncos: 16
Tries: Shaun Berrigan, Greg Eastwood
Goals: Darren Lockyer 4/5
St George Illawarra Dragons: 18
Tries: Colin Best, Matt Cooper, Brett Morris
Goals: Aaron Gorrell 1/1, Mathew Head 2/2

Halftime: Dragons 12-8
Crowd: 32,914

By the Clock:
Good evening! We're back at Suncorp Stadium tonight for an enticing match-up between the Broncos and the Dragons.

Late changes: The Dragons lose Michael Henderson, replaced by Charlie Leaeno. The Broncos have brought Casey McGuire, Fraser Anderson and Brad Thorn into their starting line-up.

KICKOFF - We're underway!

2 min: Uncontested, Clint Greenshields drops a long kick on his own 30 metre line. First chance for the Broncos here tonight.

3 min: Dane Carlaw knocks-on, and the chance goes begging.

5 min: The first penalty of the night is awarded to the Dragons to help them out of their own territory. Plenty of dropped balls from both teams to start this match.

8 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos
A classic Broncos move here - Lockyer runs to the line before passing to Hunt, then the ball is passed to Shaun Berrigan for a short run to the line. A hint of obstruction on the play is over-ruled by the Video Ref.
Darren Lockyer is successful with the conversion.
Broncos 6-0

11 min: Whoops - a second knock-on for Greenshields here, and this one is only 12 metres out from his own line.

12 min: PENALTY GOAL Brisbane Broncos
Dean Young is penalised for a lazy high tackle on David Stagg. Lockyer slots an easy kick from right in front.
Broncos 8-0

15 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragons run it on the last after some rushing Broncos defence, and Ben Creagh makes a tremendous 40 metre bust up the middle before throwing a wild pass out to Matt Cooper, who crosses untouched. The Suncorp crowd is claiming Creagh's pass went forward (and they're probably right!), but none of the officials have called it.
Mathew Head adds the extras.
Broncos 8-6

17 min: Broncos kick-off goes out on the full. Momentum has quickly swung around in this match!

20 min: Nearly another try to the Dragons - Colin Best links with Dean Young to create a good break up the middle, but the next pass to Sam Isemonger is called forward.

21 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Some brilliant passing through the backline gives Colin Best plenty of space out wide. From the halfway line he beats Darius Boyd and outpaces Karmichael Hunt to cross for a great try.
Head's conversion goes straight down the middle.
Dragons 12-8

25 min: NO TRY Brisbane Broncos
Following some good lead-up work from Karmichael Hunt, Darius Boyd squeezes over the line right in the corner - but the Video Ref rules he has dropped the ball in trying to force it.

26 min: Mathew Head puts in a little chip kick that finds plenty of open space. Mark Gasnier regathers, but passes straight to Darren Lockyer.

28 min: Ben Hannant is assisted from the field and goes straight up the tunnel - looks like a knee injury.

30 min: The Broncos go close to scoring again through a barge-over attempt from Ian Lacey, but the ball is dropped.

33 min: Sam Thaiday makes a great 30 metre bust upfield, throwing dummies in all directions.

34 min: Now it's Matt Cooper's turn as he streaks up the touchline, but the Broncos defence races across and they manage to push him into touch.

36 min: Fraser Anderson intercepts a dangerous Mathew Head pass that was intended for Matt Cooper, and possibly saves a try in the process. Both teams are really throwing the ball around here, and the backs are getting plenty of work.

39 min: Darius Boyd receives the ball out wide with a bit of space to work in. He tries to chip ahead to beat the cover defence, but the ball rolls into touch.

40 min: With their last attacking chance for the half, Shane Perry throws a long pass that is nearly intercepted by Colin Best. A long-range try would have been on the cards, but Best couldn't hang on to the ball.

HALFTIME: Broncos 8 Dragons 12

We've got a ripper of a game unfolding here with plenty of attacking spark on display from both sides. Some enterprising ball movement is being let down with a fair share of errors, so both coaches will be stressing ball control with their respective teams.

Posession: Broncos 52% Dragons 48%
Completion: Broncos 12/19 Dragons 9/19
Missed tackles: Broncos 30 (!) Dragons 11
Errors: Broncos 8 Dragons 12
Line Breaks: Broncos 2 Dragons 4

The second half is underway!

41 min: Ian Lacey makes a quick 20 metres from dummy-half, and also gets a penalty for his team. Unfortunately he appears to have suffered a leg injury in the process, and quickly leaves the field.

42 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos
Greg Eastwood takes a short Darren Lockyer pass 18 metres out, and steps through plenty of Dragons to crash across the line.
Lockyer's conversion attempt is wide.
12 all.

46 min: Shane Perry has been flattened by a Ben Creagh hit-up. He'll have to stay on though, as the Broncos are short of troops on the bench.

49 min: Mark Gasnier makes a half-break out wide and tries to link up with Ben Hornby, but the ball is lost forward.

51 min: A nice grubber from Mathew Head is cleaned up by Karmichael Hunt, but the Dragons defence is on hand to pin him inside his own in-goal.

52 min: Clint Greenshields breaks the line and is heading off for a try, but Tony Archer calls the play back for a blatant obstruction.

54 min: PENALTY GOAL Brisbane Broncos
On a kick-return, Clint Greenshields is penalised for playing on after being called held. Lockyer slots an easy kick from in front to put the Broncos back into the lead.
Broncos 14-12

60 min: A sparkling kick-return from Brett Morris is followed by some great passing between Mark Gasnier and Mathew Head to put the Dragons well within striking distance. A Broncos goal-line drop out is the result.

62 min: The Broncos hold on thanks to a Dragons error. The Broncos have already used 10 interchanges and are running out of fit troops. IF the Dragons can start holding on to the ball (their current completion rate is 12/31), they should be able to win this one.

69 min: The Broncos force a line drop-out from the Dragons. The Broncos are starting to get their second wind here.

72 min: PENALTY GOAL Brisbane Broncos
Brad Thorn loses the ball in front of the Dragons posts. Tony Archer initially rules a lost ball, but the Video Ref overturns the decision and Archer awards the Broncos a penalty for a strip instead. Darren Lockyer takes his time and adds another two points.
Broncos 16-12

74 min: Matt Bickerstaff charges down a Broncos clearing kick, but Darius Boyd wins the race to the loose ball.

77 min: A gripping last few minutes are unfolding here - the Broncos are looking desperately tired on defence but are still managing to hold on. The Dragons are throwing everything at them at the moment, but constant errors are crucifying them.

78 min: Sam Thaiday knocks-on just inside his own half - the Dragons race in to form the scrum.

79 min: VIDEO REF - possible Dragons try!

79 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
A cross-field kick from Mathew Head is well claimed by Brett Morris out wide, and he spins around to score despite plenty of Broncos defence in his way.
Aaron Gorrell is faced with a huge pressure conversion from the sideline ... and he NAILS IT!!!!
Dragons 18-16

FULLTIME: Broncos 16 Dragons 18

What a phenomenal finish to a thrilling game of League! Just when it looked like the Broncos would be able to hang on despite some overwhelming obstacles, the Dragons have snuck through in the last minute to claim a very valuable two Premiership points.

Possession: Broncos 55% Dragons 45%
Completion: Broncos 29/39 Dragons 18/35
Missed tackles: Broncos 47 Dragons 23
Errors: Broncos 11 Dragons 21
Line Breaks: Broncos 3 Dragons 6

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Petero Civoniceva
2 - Darren Lockyer
1 - Ben Creagh