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St George Illawarra have maintained their stunning record in Brisbane, defeating the Broncos 25-12 tonight in front of more than 42,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
The clash of the heavyweights lived up to the hype in the first half, both teams trading blows in equal measure right up until the halftime break. The first points of the game went the way of Brisbane, birthday boy Israel Folau on the end of a backline movement which saw him cross out wide. The Dragons responded with a similar movement minutes later, Ben Creagh forcing his way over to even the score.
The Dragons continued to dominate from that point, but seemed unable to convert pressure into points as handling errors plagued their efforts. Brisbane on the other hand had just one other big chance, which referee Shayne Hayne denied, citing a forward pass that will be a point of conjecture over the coming days. Brisbane ultimately conceded a penalty on the halftime siren which allowed the Dragons the halftime lead by just 8-6.
It was the Dragons intensity that saw them lift and take hold of the game in the second half, Brisbane looking very tired for most of the rest of the game. Jamie Soward scored off his own high kick after Antonio Winterstein fumbled under the high ball, giving the Dragons an 8-point edge. Then the shining moment, a break down the right flank capped off with a try to Wendell Sailor - once a favourite of the pro-Queensland crowd.
The visitors then seemed to have put away the Broncos after Soward made another line break down the left, before offloading to Morris who went in out wide. A 22-6 lead looked like enough, but just minutes later Darren Lockyer crossed and the gap was just 10 points.
Brisbane went close again a few times before fulltime, but a penalty and then subsequent field goal saw the Dragons home.
St George Illawarra now join Brisbane atop the competition table, and will head to Parramatta next Friday full of confidence. The Broncos also head back south, facing the Roosters, again on Friday.
Match Details St George Illawarra Dragons 25 def Brisbane Broncos 12 Round 4 - Friday April 3rd, 2009 7:35pm Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Referee: Shayne Hayne & Matt Cecchin Sideline Officials: Paul Holland & Gavin Reynolds Video Referee: Steve Clark Crowd: 42,435 Halftime: Dragons 8-6
Brisbane Broncos (12) Tries: Israel Folau, Darren Lockyer Goals: Corey Parker (2/3) St George Illawarra Dragons (25) Tries: Ben Creagh, Jamie Soward, Wendell Sailor, Brett Morris Field Goals: Jamie Soward (1/1) Goals: Jamie Soward (4/6)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Suncorp Stadium is absolutely buzzing this evening with the biggest match-up so far this year... Wayne Bennett returns to his old stomping ground after just four rounds of guiding St George Illawarra. Saints are defending solidly but are lacking attacking spark thus far, something not helped by the loss of Matt Cooper. Brisbane on the other hand are cruising alone at the top of the ladder and will take some toppling. The team changes have been rung in, and are as follows:
BRONCOS: 1. Karmichael Hunt 2. Antonio Winterstein 3. Steve Michaels 4. Justin Hodges 5. Israel Folau 6. Darren Lockyer (c) 7. Peter Wallace 8. Nick Kenny 14. Andrew McCullough 10. Joel Clinton 11. Sam Thaiday 12. Ben Te