The St George Illawarra Dragons were defeated 30-22 by the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane on Friday.
The Red-and-Whites scored four tries in the very physical tussle but it was not enough to claim the two competition points.
Dragons Head Coach Paul McGregor had opted to standby his original line-up announced midweek which included both centre Josh Dugan and Benji Marshall who had respectively been cleared of any injury fears.
The Dragons applied pressure on the home side from the kick-off but found themselves trailing after Broncos halfback Ben Hunt managed to get the better or second-rower Leeson Ah Mau in the ninth minute.
Broncos captain Corey Parker converted to make it 6-0.
However, the Dragons were not deterred and soon got themselves back in contention when winger Jason Nightingale got his name on the score sheet in the 16th minute.
Dragons halfback Benji Marshall had been the orchestrator of the four-pointer with his cross-field kick collected one-handed by the flanker on the right-edge.
Yet, the celebrations were short-lived as the hosts soon reasserted their lead with a further three converted tries to round-out the interval.
The Broncos inflicted their initial four-pointer following the efforts of Hunt, who had managed to weave his way past the visiting forward-pack, in the 23rd minute.
This was closely followed by second-rower Matt Gillett’s efforts five minutes later before winger Daniel Vidot inflicted the third blow form the left edge in the 35th minute.
Parker converted all three tries to make it 24-4.
The Dragons were forced to absorb a lot of pressure from their hosts when second-half play resumed and were forced to defend their line on several occasions.
However, the visitors overcame this barrage to peg-back the deficit to within two-points having managed to inflict three unanswered converted tries of their own.
The Dragons notched their first try of the second stanza through the efforts of centre Josh Dugan’s calm carry and plant in the 54th minute.
This was followed-up on the hour mark by second-rower Joel Thompson’s blistering run 40-metres out from the try line after collecting five-eighth Gareth Widdop’s beat offload.
The Dragons completed the trifecta of tries with a neat group-effort initiated by halfback Benji Marshall, who offloaded to fullback Gerard Beale, who in turn passed backwards to Widdop.
From there the England international moved the ball left to Thompson who flicked it on to centre Peter Mata’utia to carry across the stripe.
Widdop converted all three conversion to make it 24-22.
However, the Broncos once more gathered their composure and with eight minutes remaining put the game beyond reach for the visitors when Gillett scored his second try of the game.
Parker converted to make it 30-22.
St George Illawarra Dragons: 22 Tries: Nightingale, Dugan, Thompson, Mata’utia. Goals: Widdop (3/4).
Brisbane Broncos: 30. Tries: Hunt (2), Gillett (2), Vidot. Goals: Parker (5/5).