It was a much improved Brisbane Broncos performance but not enough, as the St George Illawarra Dragons won 24-28 at Suncorp Stadium.
They fought valiantly to get themselves back in the contest and to stay in the game but fell just short.
The win was the perfect start to Dean Young’s coaching career, and he was pleased with his side’s performance.
Most impressive was the bounce back performance from Corey Norman and the consistency of Ben Hunt’s game.
Both are former Broncos and both played a key role in getting the win for the Dragons.
It was a fast start for the Dragons and things were looking grim for the Broncos early.
Josh Kerr muscled his way past some goal-line defence to plant the ball down under the sticks.
This was followed by a dancing and jinking Corey Norman, who evaded defenders to make his way over the line.
The Broncos dug deep, however, and it was veteran custodian Darius Boyd who provided the spark.
In a right side raid, his cut-out pass found Richard Kennar and the winger did the rest to score a simple try.
The Broncos went in again soon after, when Cory Paix showed his strength, burrowing over from dummy half.
A Zac Lomax penalty goal put the Dragons up 14-12 before Mikaele Ravalawa continued his brilliant 2020 form.
Matt Dufty was involved, his cut-out pass finding the Fijian winger who bulldozed past three defenders to score his first.
The Dragons went into the break up 18-12 but it was the Broncos who burst out of the blocks in the second half.
Some individual brilliance from Kotoni Staggs and a try of the year candidate had fans excited.
Staggs ran 75 metres, bustling through tackles, weaving in and out and fooling Dufty with a dummy to score a tremendous solo try.
The Dragons would get their second penalty of the night when Patrick Carrigan impeded Dufty in a kick chase.
The news was not all good for the Broncos at that point, with Anthony Milford departing due to hamstring strain.
Adam Clune and Lomax would then combine to gift Ravalawa his second try of the match.
Clune’s crossfield kick was held brilliantly by Lomax, before he passed to the Fijian and he did the rest.
Tom Dearden would not let the Broncos waver and his try cut the margin to just two points.
In the end, the score would remain in the Dragons favour as they keep their slim finals hopes alive.
With the news of the passing of Payne Haas’ brother, the Broncos wanted to perform at their best and rally around their team-mate.
“It was very emotional around Payne’s brother,” Gentle said.
“It was very emotional for the group because Payne is very popular and so is his brother and family.”
Although Young was pleased with how his side performed, he told his side not to get complacent moving forward.
“I want to know what we are going to get from the Dragons each week,” Young said.
“At the moment – our fans and everybody – we don’t know what we are going to get from this team.
“We have made a small step in the right direction.
“We changed a couple of things last week and the players and staff bought into it and got on with it.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Corey Norman (SGI)
2. Ben Hunt (SGI)
- Tom Dearden (BRI)