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A thick fog rolled onto WIN Stadium as rain lashed the hearty and brave St George Illawarra Dragon supporters. They had little to celebrate however as the Dragons side started and finished in woeful fashion against a much more intelligent Brisbane side, the Broncos winning the encounter by 28 to 14.
Nothing went right from the start for the Dragons as they struggled to hold onto the ball, bumbling possession away too easily.
The Broncos' kicking game and rock solid defence set them up for three tries in the first half as a thick blanket of fog enveloped the pitch. At half time, the Broncos led by 14 to 6.
In the second half the Dragons continued to surrender possession, trip over their own shoe laces and generally looked a mess. The only consolation for the red and whites was two late tries to finish the game.
Saints next play competition front-runners the Roosters and may do so without Trent Barrett or Shaun Timmins - with both coming off injured tonight - potentially throwing them a fatal curve ball before the finals.
WIN Stadium Referee: Sean Hampstead Video Referee: Graeme West Touch Judges: Pat Reynolds, Paul Kalina
Scorers: DRAGONS 14 Tries: Timmins, Withers, Frew Goals: Head 1/3 defeated by BRONCOS 28 Tries: Frawley 2, McGuire, Webcke, Stag Goals: Lockyer 4/7
By the clock: The dust has settled, with the Origin series over and done with both sides will have a hole stack of stars back for this friday night clash between the two NRL heavyweights. Late changes: Andrew Frew & Michael Howell have replaced John Carlaw & Mark Gasnier for the Dragons side. Centre David Stag comes in for the Broncos and Dane Carlaw comes out. Earlier showers have left Win Stadium's surface wet.
0 min: Dragons kickoff
3 min: Try - Broncos. Excellent start for the Broncos! Darren Lockyer puts in a short kick into the in-goal, Casey McGuire is in support and gets the goods. Darren Lockyer's conversion attempt goes wide. 4-0 Broncos
7 min: News - The Broncos are creating havoc on the short side of the field, Darren Lockyer knocks the ball on coming incredibly close to scoring a well deserved try.
16 min: Try - Dragons. Nice work by Mark Riddell out of dummy half drawing in several Broncos defenders before passing it to the try scorer Shaun Timmins. Matthew Head converts. 6-4 Dragons
20 min: News - Both sides are being penalised for infringing at the play the ball area. A thick fog has also covered WIN stadium.
24 min: Try - Broncos. Shane Webcke bounces through four Dragons players close the line to score. Lockyer converts. 10-6 Broncos
27 min: News - The Dragons have made several poor handling errors out of dummy half. This could come back to haunt the Dragons side.
28 min: News - The Dragons hold Neville Costigan up over the line after the Broncos opted to the run the ball on the last tackle.
34 min: News - Trent Barrett's kick into the in-goal just rolls over the chalk before Andrew Frew could get a hand to it.
35 min: News - Ben Hornby makes up a mountain of ground to knock the ball dead before Brisbane's winger Stuart Kelly could score.
38 min: Try - Broncos. Karmichael Hunt running out of dummy half puts in a grubber kick to set up Craig Frawley for the try. Lockyer's conversion attempt just misses. 14-4 Broncos
HALF TIME: The Broncos have got their tales up at the break. Ball handling has become difficult in conditions like this but the Broncos have exposed the pairing of Andrew Frew & David Howell aiming alot of the attack at them. Their kicking has been superior as has their go-forward. I'd be suprised if Trent Barrett stays on the field as he quite clearly struggling with an injury, the Dragons are still in the game but they need some ball which they lacked in the first half. 14-6 Brisbane Broncos are leading at the break. HALF TIME stats: Possession: 57% in favour to the Broncos Penalties: 4-4 Errors: Dragons 5-3 Completions: Dragons 16/21; Broncos 15/18 Tackles: Dragons 165-121 Mistackles Dragons 16-10
40 min: Broncos kickoff, the second half is under way
40 min: News - Trent Barrett has not come back onto the field.
42 min: News - The Dragons just cant mount any pressure as Ben Hornby knocks the ball on from dumnmy half. Rain is starting to fall.
44 min: News - The Broncos draw and pass, Craig Frawley is tackled by Lincoln Withers before sliding about 5 metres over the sideline in a try saving situation.
48 min: Penalty Goal - Broncos. 20 metres out in front following a penalty for lifting past the horozontal. 16-6 Broncos
55 min: News - Along with the rain the errors are pouring in. The Dragons still cant get inside the Broncos 20 metre line and the Broncos defence has been rock solid all game.
58 min: News - Stuart Kelly will not be back on the field tonight.
60 min: Try - Broncos. Neville Costigan throws a short pass to Craig Frawley to score a double. The Dragons simply cant hold onto the ball at all. Lockyer's kick is a shocker. 20-6 Broncos
64 min: Try - Broncos. Casey McGuire puts in a kick, Brent Tate flicks the ball back to David Stag before it went out to score a well deserved try. Lockyer converts. 26-6 Broncos
67 min: News - Shaun Timmins comes off the field with what looks a bout of concussion.
70 min: Try - Dragons. Tony Jensen makes a break, he's tackled just before reaching the tryline. The next play Lincoln Withers passes it to Michael Howell, he places the ball back before Lincoln Withers scored. Head's kick goes wide. 26-10 Broncos
73 min: Penalty Goal - Broncos. Following a two on one strip. 18 metres out 10 metres out wide Darren Lockyer slots it. 28-10 Broncos
76 min: News - Ben Hornby strips the ball from Darren Lockyer as he was about to score.
79 min: Try - Dragons. The Dragons attack the left side of the field, Andrew Frew runs onto a ball at speed to end the match on a high note. Head's kick goes wide.
FULL TIME: Amongst the fog, rain, hail, thunder and freak tropical storms The Broncos played more intelligent football than the Dragons and it showed, you can not make that many errors inside your own 20 metres in a match especially against the Broncos. FULL TIME stats: Possession: 54% in favour to the Broncos Penalties: 6-6 Errors: Dragons 19-11 Completions: Dragons 25/43; Broncos 31/42 Tackles: Dragons 302-205 Mistackles Dragons 27-25 Brisbane Broncos win 28-14 ----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - N Costigan (Broncos) 2 - S Webcke (Broncos) 1 - C McGuire (Broncos) -----------------------------------------