The Brisbane Broncos have stamped their credentials on the top eight with an impressive 12-2 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons in Wollongong tonight, the competition front-runners losing back-to-back matches for the first time in 2009.
The win also sees the Broncos end an eight match losing streak against the Dragons.
In a low scoring encounter, the Broncos gained the ascendancy midway through the first half thanks to a superb kicking game from five-eighth Darren Lockyer, the Brisbane skipper taking full advantage of a dominant forward display from prop David Taylor wide of the ruck.
Played in front of a crowd of 17,000, the match was a tight fought contest with Dragons leading 2-0 following a penalty goal after eight minutes of play. The Broncos levelled up to 2-all in the 24th minute. Four minutes later the Broncos scored their first try when Taylor slammed the ball on the line after getting the better of his opposites in the corner.
At half time, the visitors held a 6-2 lead.
With the match still up for grabs, both sides had their opportunities before Broncos winger Antonio Winterstein scored out wide in the 57th minute, forward Taylor once again featuring with a tremendous fend and offload in the backline.
Lockyer continued his kicking game, raining bombs and pushing grubbers to keep the home side on the back foot.
The result sees the first-placed Dragons looking over their shoulder at the Bulldogs, just two points adrift and a game in hand. The Broncos, written off by most pundits a month ago, have now won their third match on the trot and knocking on the door of a top four spot.
Brisbane Broncos 12 def St George Illawarra Dragons 2
Round 24 - Friday August 21st, 2009 07:35pm Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong Referee: Shayne Hayne & Ben Cummins
Sideline Officials: Steve Carrall & Russell Turner
Video Referee: Sean Hampstead Crowd: 17,044 Halftime: St George Illawarra Dragons 2 Brisbane Broncos 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the game as it happens - Dragons v Broncos forum discussion - click here!
DRAGONS: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Brett Morris 3. Beau Scott 4. Matt Cooper 5. Wendell Sailor 6. Jamie Soward 7. Ben Hornby (c) 8. Justin Poore 9. Dean Young 10. Michael Weyman 11. Matt Prior 12. Ben Creagh 17. Jarrod Saffy Interchange: 14. Dan Hunt 15. Jeremy Smith 16. Nathan Fien, 20 Chase Stanley. BRONCOS: 1. Karmichael Hunt 2. Antonio Winterstein 15. Ben Teo 4. Justin Hodges 5. Jharal Yow Yeh 6. Darren Lockyer (c) 7. Peter Wallace 8. Nick Kenny 9. Andrew McCullough 10. David Taylor 11. Tonie Carroll 12. Sam Thaiday 13. Corey Parker Interchange: 14. Lagi Setu 16. Josh McGuire, 17. Ashton Sims, 18. Guy Williams
Welcome to Wollongong. A packed house have turned up on a perfect night for football to see the Dragons (1st) take on the Broncos (8th). Not a premiership shirt in sight. A bit of rain this arvo but it looks like a good track.
Team changes: Dragons - Lock Neville Costigan is out. His place in the run on side has been taken by Jarrod Saffy. Utility / centre Chase Stanley has been added the bench. Broncos - Centre Alex Glenn is out. No. 15. Ben Teo is promoted from the bench to the centres. Looks like Guy Williams has come onto the bench.
Teams on the field. Dragons will have the breeze at their backs in the first half.
Dragons kick off and the match is underway!
2 min: 40/20: Five-eighth Jamie Soward kicks the Dragons into a great attacking position. Less than two minutes gone.
4 min: Broncos with some field position - Dragons fullback Darius Boyd fields a swirling bomb.
7 min: Penalty - Broncos five-eighth and skipper Darren Lockyer pinned for stripping the ball on prop Michael Weymann. Soward points to the posts.
8 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons Soward makes no mistake from almost in front. St George Illawarra Dragons 2-0
17 min: Dragons with some momentum now. A kick into the in-goal is fielded well by winger Jharal Yow Yeh back into the field of play.
24 min: Penalty - Dragons forward Dan Hunt penalised for holding down in the tackle. Broncos will take the two points.
24 min: PENALTY GOAL Brisbane Broncos Corey Parker makes easy work of it from almost in front. 2 all
26 min: Towering bomb from Lockyer not handled at all well by 'Dell's House' Sailor. Broncos with a big opportunity.
28 min: Possible TRY - Broncos. Video Ref looking... Tremendous defence from the Dragons but looks like Broncos prop David Taylor may have got the ball on the line in the corner.
28 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Taylor gets the nod from the video ref - the Broncos hit the front. Conversion attempt by Parker hooked and unsuccessful. Brisbane Broncos 6-2
30 min: Possible TRY - Dragons. Video ref looking. Verdict...
NO TRY - Soward grubber kick is regathered by Soward by a small knock forward from Hunt is detected in the chase and scramble. Soward hurt in the process as he falls in the ball, but looks OK.
33 min: Dragons survive a Broncos attacking raid after a David Taylor pass goes into touch.
35 min: Broncos with a truckload of field position and possession, and are the attack. But a handling error from Sam Thaiday wode of the ruck brings the movement to an end.
37 min: NO TRY - Dragons denied. Soward bomb and he regathers again to 'score'. But ref calls it back for knock-on against centre Beau Scott whilst contesting the bomb.
Half time: Broncos 6-2 Broncos have dominated in the back end of the first half with their attack. Dragons finding themselves on the back foot, especially down their right side. Broncos looking the goods but too early to call. Possession is the key.
Second half undeway...
45 min: Dragons with a repeat set early in the second half following a kick in-goal from winger Brett Morris. Handling error in following set. Broncos replu in kind with a handling error of their own.
46 min: Top shelf defence from Broncos holds out the Dragons on the last tackle.
50 min: One-on-one strip from Morris takes the ball from backrower Tonie Carroll. But Dragons make another handling error in the next ruck. Broncos looking dangerous again.
52 min: Broncos with a repeat set after a near perfect high kick from Lockyer is fielded by Dragons backrower Dean Young in front of the goal line, and subsequently forced back.
56 min: Broncos with a huge chance after another high bomb goes to ground, Morris knocking on. Another top shelf kick.
57 min: TRY Brisbane Broncos Winger Antonio Winterstein in the corner following a great run and offload from Taylor running wide. Sideline conversion attempt by Parker successful. Brisbane Broncos 12-2
60 min: Dragons knock-on again, mid-field. Broncos up in the faces.
62 min: Dragons forced into another line drop out following a grubber. Lockyer again with the boot.
INJURY - Matt Cooper forced off with what appears to be a foot injury.
70 min: Dragons throwing the ball around and playing catch up. But the defencxe is equal to it and time is running out for the match favourites. Hard to see the Broncos losing from here.
72 min: Another perfect kick from Lockyer. Prop Matt Prior does his best, catching it well but is then trapped in the in-goal by a fired-up Ashlee Sims.
75 min: Dragons with a try scoring opportunity, Soward and Scott combining. The move unravels 20m out during a scramble with the last line of defence and the ball going to ground.
Full time: Broncos 12-2 An upset and a big turnaround from the Broncos in recent weeks, their third win on the trot. Dragons on the other hand have lost two in a row, and the minor premiership in doubt. Broncos simply too good, controlling possession throughout. Dragons looking out of form but were only allowed to play as well as the opposition allowed. Broncos with a healthy completion rate of around 80%, Dragons less than 70%. Broncos enjoyed over 55% of the ball, keeping their opponents try-less and running out comprehensive winners. For the visitors, Lockyer was outstanding with his kicking game. Taylor was the best forward on the field in both defence and attack, and well supported across the park.