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Fulltime score: Round 23 Brisbane Broncos 4 v St George Illawarra Dragons 24
The Dragons have proven to one and all that they are real Minor Premiership contenders with a well fought victory over competition leaders, the Brisbane Broncos by 24-4.
The first half was a real grinder with both sides defending superbly as the ball seemed to go from one end of the field to the other with every set.
Expansive football was certainly on order for the packed Suncorp Stadium in perfect condition and both sides turned it on.
With a slender lead of just 6-0 at the break, the Dragons put on a splendid second half display that left all present in no doubt that they intend to go all the way in 2005.
Soaking up the inevitable attack by the Broncos, the desperate scrambling defence by the Dragons turned into a great display of skills as they scored 3 tries in the last fifteen minutes to seal the game nicely.
The Broncos defence at times was stunning, Hodges and Civoniceva putting in top notch efforts for their team.
With the Dragons hosting the Eels next Sunday, the race for the top spot on the ladder is wide open, and certainly not worth missing.
Broncos v Dragons match photos: Click here to see the photo gallery for this game
Scorers: BRISBANE BRONCOS 4 Tries: Hodges Goals: B Seymour 0/1 ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 24 Tries: Barrett, Payne, Best, Hornby Goals: W Naiqama 0/1, Ennis 4/4
Suncorp Stadium Referee: Tim Mander Crowd: 48,995
Live commentary: 0 min: We have kick-off at Suncorp, a Grand Final feel about this game today.
3 min: NEWS Bad news early for Brisbane as Lockyer winces in pain to his shoulder. Stays on field however, a sigh of relief amongst the Bronco faithful. 0 all.
6 min: NEWS Bott bombs a shot at a Brisbane try early. Dragons now with the ball on the attack. Gasnier runs the ball close to the Broncos line. Sensational game from both sides so far. Dragons penalty now 10m from Broncos line. 0 all.
7 min: MISSED PENALTY GOAL Naiqama shoots for goal but misses. Dragons on the attack still. 0 all.
9 min: NEWS The set wasted by a heavy grubber kick which goes dead. Broncos out of jail for now. 0 all.
14th min: NEWS Tension is high in the match. Both sides using their sets well but the defence is right on the button. Still no score in the game
18th min: NEWS A knock on by the Dragons fullback Greenshields, 10 metres out from the Broncos line allows the home side a great scoring opportunity. Once again outstanding defence by the Dragons nullifies any points on the board
24th min: NEWS Unbelievable match with end to end attack by both sides. The scrambling defence on display is brilliant by the two teams. No score in the match
29th min: NEWS Niggle between Gasnier and Parker. Mander decides to award a penalty to the Dragons shooing off the touch judges. They come very close to scoring but once more the defence is rock solid and committed
32nd min: TRY - DRAGONS Finally the deadlock in the scoreline is broken. The Dragons have been slowly building to this. Barrett runs through a gap, wrong foots Hunt and runs 60 metres to score. Ennis converts. Dragons 6-0
38th min: NO TRY - BRONCOS Fifth tackle option and Stagg looked to have scored for the Broncos but is called up short. Dragons hold onto their lead, 6-0
HALFTIME: High intensity match with both sides giving it their all in the first half. 6-0 to the Dragons at the break
Second half underway..
45th min: NEWS The pressure is on the Broncos with a couple of early errors in this half already
47th min: TRY - DRAGONS The momentum has been with the Dragons since the break and they capitalise on it superbly. A line dropout in their favour and Payne on the last, stretches out to score. Ennis converts. Dragons 12-0
52nd min: NEWS Cooper (Dragons) very close to scoring out wide but a try saving tackle by Hodges allows a counter attack by the Broncos. Score remains 12-0 to the Dragons
54th min: NO TRY - BRONCOS The Broncos finally look to have points in the match but the last pass by Thorn to Bott was ruled forward much to the disgust of the Broncos fans
58th min: NEWS A line drop out for the Broncos and Civoniceva was ruled to have dropped the ball on the first tackle. The replay clearly shows Ennis popped the ball out, unlucky for the Broncos. Dragons lead 12-0
65th min: TRY - BRONCOS Hodges gets his side finally on the scoreboard with a richly deserved try to the Broncos centre. A well directed pass by Lockyer to Hodges allows the centre over out wide. Seymour with a tough conversion, misses the extra points. Dragons 12-4
68th min: TRY - DRAGONS The Dragons hit back straight away with Best over under the posts. A missed tackle by Lockyer on Naiqama allows to Dragons winger to run 40 metres and set up the try perfectly for Best. Ennis converts from out in front. Dragons 18-4
71st min: NEWS The crowd figure just announced at an outstanding 48,995. Great stuff. Lockyer off the field with a hamstring injury
77th min: TRY - DRAGONS The Dragons finishing the game on fire. A scrum 20 metres out from their line gives them excellent field position. Hornby right on the line, does a backward flip and plants the ball firmly on the ground. Ennis from out in front, converts. Dragons 24-4
FULLTIME: A solid second half effort by the Dragons shows they are real final contenders as they defeated the Broncos by 24-4
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - L Bailey(Dragons) 2 - C Greenshields(Dragons) 1 - T Barrett(Dragons) -----------------------------------------