By Mary Maidiotis
The St George Illawarra Dragons were triumphant 12-10 victors over the Brisbane Broncos at Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Friday.
The Red-and-Whites scored just two tries through Eto Nabuli and Mike Cooper but it was the side’s defensive efforts which handed them their fifth consecutive win.
Head Coach Paul McGregor made minor changes to the line-up named mid-week with prop Cooper starting in the forward pack, shifting captain Ben Creagh to the interchange bench.
Fellow prop George Rose was consequently omitted from the line-up.
The homeside were on the attack early on with two consecutive grubbers 10 metres out, courtesy of halfback Benji Marshall, but they were unfortunately unable to capitalise.
The Broncos struck first in the 16th minute when Matt Gillett threw a swift cut-out pass to winger Daniel Vidot who scored in the corner.
However, the Dragons hit back in the 22nd minute when Fijian flyer Nabuli raced to the ball and grounded it before it rolled dead, with the video referee granting a try.
The hosts extended their lead five minutes later when five-eighth Gareth Widdop slotted the ball over the black dot, after being awarded a penalty for a high tackle.
The Red V looked the better attacking side for the remainder of the first forty, forcing several repeat sets, but were unable to convert their chances, maintaining a 6-4 lead at the half-time break.
Dragons second-rower Will Matthews was impressive in his first game of the season with several notable tackles in the first-half.
The Broncos won a penalty 10 minutes into the second-half, after Dragons centre Dylan Farrell was put on report for an unfortunate tackle on opposing second-rower Alex Glenn, however, Broncos lock Corey Parker failed to convert.
The visitors continued their attack and reaped the benefits minutes later when prop Sam Thaiday charged through a tackle and planted the ball under the posts.
Parker had no trouble converting the try to put the Broncos 10-6 in the lead.
The Dragons were down an interchange just shy of the hour mark when second-rower Jake Marketo was forced to leave the field with a suspected concussion.
Despite this, the hosts demonstrated their resilience 13 minutes out from full-time when prop Mike Cooper broke through several tackles and barged over the white line while carrying three opposition players.
Widdop easily converted the try to give the Dragons the lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
The away side placed plenty of pressure on the Red-and-Whites but the Dragons proved why they have the best defensive stats in the competition, holding the Broncos out until the full-time siren.
St George Illawarra Dragons 12. Tries: Nabuli, Cooper Goals: Widdop (1/2). Penalty Goals: Widdop (1/1).
Brisbane Broncos 10. Tries: Vidot, Thaiday. Goals: Parker (1/2). Penalty Goals: Parker (0/1).