The Broncos overcame the loss of their Origin stars to hold out St George Illawarra 32-18 in a see-sawing clash at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Brisbane chalked up their sixth straight win at home to cement their finals position in Round 17, with Tesi Niu and Kotoni Staggs putting on a masterclass performance for the fifth-placed Broncos.
The Broncos dominated the opening stages of the match and Delouise Hoeter capitalised on the advantage of an extra man created by Dragons prop Tariq Sims' sinbinning for a late tackle on Adam Reynolds to open the scoring in the third minute.
Shortly after Sims returned to the fray it was Dragons fullback Cody Ramsey who broke Brisbane’s line and ran 40 metres to get across the stripe in the 16th minute, with a conversion putting the Dragons in the lead.
But in the exact same fashion as the opening try, Sims was sinbinned for the second time of the match for a high-tackle on Rhys Kennedy and Broncos immediately hit back with Niu finishing off a right side scoot from dummy half.
The Dragons responded soon after, with centre Moses Suli muscling his way through Broncos defence to put the visitors back on top.
But the lead changed hands again before halftime with Brisbane’s backline igniting a right side raid to hand centre Staggs his first try in seven matches to make it 16-12.
Staggs hits back in style
Opening the scoring in both halves, Hoeter, who in his ninth NRL game, crossed for his second try of the night after a ruck infringement reset gave the hosts a dangerous opportunity on their line.
But Brisbane put the game out of reach when a right foot jink by Kobe Hetherington exposed the Dragons defence and young half Ezra Mam scored under the posts.
And Reynolds 900th NRL conversion put the Broncos in front by 14 points.
The Broncos found another gear with right winger Jordan Pereira placing a perfect kick infield for Staggs to score his second.
Although the visitors were able to find another try in the 71st minute with Ramsey wrestling his way through Broncos defence to grab his second, the damage had well and truly been done and Broncos remained in a comfortable 32-18 lead.
The Dragons threw everything at the home side in the closing stages but Kevin Walters' men hung on, coming away with a big win at Suncorp Stadium to keep their place in fifth spot.
Match: Broncos v Dragons
Round 17 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
- Tariq Sims was sin-binned twice in the first half
- Replacing Corey Oates on the wing, opening try-scorer Delouise Hoeter scored his first NRL try in the third minute.
- Broncos were without 13 of their top 30 squad
- Dragons winger Mikaele Ravalawa left the field in the 56th minute with a hamstring injury after attempting to save a try
- Broncos veteran-halfback Adam Reynolds become the fifth player in the history of the premiership to kick 900 goals.
- Kotoni Staggs proved elusive in the centres for the Broncos with 134 run metres.
- Young back-rower Zac Hosking - the son of former Manly cult hero David 'The Mule' Hosking was impressive for the Broncos on his NRL debut.
- The Broncos have won their past six games at Suncorp Stadium.
- Cody Ramsey continues to make the No.1 jersey his own for the Dragons, breaking six tackles and running for 145 metres to go with his two four-pointers.
- The win keeps the Broncos in fifth position while the Dragons are in eighth.
Play of the Game
The new-look Broncos side looked like they had been playing together all season when Broncos lock Kobe Hetherington broke through the Dragons line and passed onto fullback Tesi Niu who was in support. Niu then delivered the ball to young half Ezra Mam, who scored under the posts for a try that put Broncos comfortably in the lead.
Mam backs up perfectly
What They Said
"In their history as a club, on the baby Bronco weekend they always play out of their skin and to their credit they did that. We had periods where we'd start to get the game to where we wanted in the first half but in the second half we gave away our field position too easily. We just weren't good enough defensively." - Dragons coach Anthony Griffin
That was a tremendous performance. We knew that some guys there had been waiting a long time for an opportunity, particularly Zac Hosking whose been waiting a long time to play his first game in the NRL, we had Tesi Niu who hadn't played for a long time, Ryan James and Xavier Wilson. So I'm really happy for those guys that they put the jersey on and did themselves and the club really proud." - Broncos coach Kevin Walters
NRL Press Conference: Broncos v Dragons - Round 17, 2022
The Dragons head to Central Coast Stadium to take on the 10th-placed Roosters in Round 18. The Red V will be hoping to have their spine back together once skipper Ben Hunt returns from Origin duties but will face a tough battle with the Roosters desperate to climb into the top-eight.
St George coach Anthony Griffin will be sweating on the fitness of star winger Mikaele Ravalawa who sustained a hamstring injury during the Round 17 match.
The Broncos will travel to CBUS Stadium to battle the Titans in a Round 18 Queensland clash. Brisbane will welcome back their Origin reps as they look to snatch another two points in their run to the finals.