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Fitzgibbon Sucumbs to Suncorp
Sydney Roosters and NSW rugby league forward Craig Fitzgibbon Friday night became the latest victim of the Suncorp Stadium sand as the Brisbane Broncos finally cracked a win at their new home ground.
Fitzgibbon, who was an almost certain selection for next month's test against New Zealand, faces three to four months on the sidelines after suffering knee ligament damage early in the first half of what was one of the best games of the National Rugby League season.
He joins Roosters teammate Justin Hodges on the long term casualty list after a Suncorp mishap, with the Queensland centre suffering a season-ending knee injury in the first State of Origin match. Fellow Maroon Paul Bowman also damaged his knee in that game.
Fitzgibbon's injury was another low point for the revamped ground which finally witnessed a Queensland success tonight with the Broncos earning a 10-8 win through a late try to prop Petero Civoniceva.
But Roosters coach Ricky Stuart refused to blame the still sandy surface for the knee injuries to Fitzgibbon and halfback Brett Finch, who suffered cartilage damage.
"I saw the tackle and mate I think it was the way he was tackled, you can't blame the ground for it," Stuart said of the
$280 million venue, which staged its third match since reopening on June 1.
"I don't want to go to that extent. You have a look at the stadium, it's a fantastic stadium, you just hope the ground is good to be able to match what you've got outside the arena itself. We need more of these types of stadiums to play our football in."
Fitzgibbon came off in the ninth minute of the game after a innocuous looking tackle from Broncos stand-in five-eighth Casey McGuire.
While Fitzgibbon's season has been ruined, his likely Australian second row partner Gorden Tallis returned to his best for the Broncos after a disappointing effort for Queensland in this week's Origin loss.
Fifteen players, including nine Broncos, backed up from the Blues series clinching win in Sydney on Wednesday night, and all performed magnificently but none more than Tallis.
The tearaway second rower scored a try late in the first half off his own grubber kick to haul Brisbane back up after the Roosters had led 8-0 midway through the opening half.
The Broncos were unlucky not to be ahead, having three first half tries disallowed.
Late in the game the Broncos finally hit the front when Shane Webcke sent Civoneciva over. Tallis made a match-saving tackle on Ryan Cross.
"He's at his best Gorden when he's relaxed and stops thinking about the reputation that he has," said Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.
Both coaches praised the quality of the effort from their teams and the tireless defence.
"That's basically another Origin game there tonight," Stuart said.
Brisbane's Darren Lockyer had another exciting dual with his NSW Origin fullback opponent Anthony Minichiello, who scored the Roosters only try.
Lockyer also featured tonight on Channel Nine's Burke's Backyard prompting Bennett to quip that "he was playing in his backyard at Suncorp Stadium".
Brisbane's Queensland Origin forward aspirant Corey Parker was put on report by referee Tim Mander late in the game for a high tackle on Brett Finch.
Another selection chance Carl Webb played his first game of the season for the Broncos off the bench.