ST George Illawarra outplayed, out-muscled and out-thought the Brisbane Broncos in front of a healthy crowd on a wet night at Suncorp Stadium. This was an up-tempo and highly entertaining game of rugby league.
St George Illawarra’s enthusiasm was outstanding, dummy-half running and defence the cornerstones to their victory. They made big gains up the middle with quick play-the-balls and scampering runs out of dummy-half. They also muscled-up in defence and really smashed the Brisbane forwards. Basically St George Illawarra were a team on a mission – a Mission from The Super Coach. They looked the better side all night, fully deserved the win and left Saints fans delighted with their hard-running, hard-defending ways. They could Saint Benny yet!
Brisbane? Well, Brisbane… just did not have any answers to the Dragons’ onslaught. Well and truly bushwhacked. They didn’t play incredibly badly. But they’ll need to look at themselves and the video long into next week. Or maybe they shouldn’t, and hence keep believing they are a premiership prospect.
The Game Swung When… After getting a razz from the crowd all night, Wendell Sailor scored the match-winner in the 59th minute, sparking a fabulous post-try celebration that saw the football end up in the 75th row of Suncorp Stadium. One of the game’s great characters. Good on him.
The Broncos still weren’t out of it, as Darren Lockyer’s try showed. But they needed a miracle to beat this inspired Dragons line-up, and all the miracles were being delivered by Saint Benny.
That said, Shayne Hayne did not help, either…
Who Was Hot… Jamie Soward was great all night and an obvious Man of the Match. Even answered the critics who said he was a liability in defence with a smashing one-on-one hit on Karmichael Hunt.
Matt Prior led the way with his defence (44 tackles), Ben Creagh broke seven tackles and scored a determined try and Michael Weyman made 20 runs for 153 metres.
Fullback Darius Boyd made a couple of errors but overall enjoyed a great return to his former stamping ground. Excellent on his feet, Boyd, he made some fine runs (straight at last, too) and cut the Broncos’ defence to pieces more than once. Surely a shoo-in for the Maroons.
And of course there’s Big Dell, who’s looking better each week in the Red V.
Who Was Not… Brisbane’s forwards were belted. By half-time they looked tired while the Dragons powered into them like bowling balls into pins. With their bodies battered and their minds knowing it, there followed a terrible amount of dropped ball by the big Broncos, meaning their star-studded backline didn’t get enough ball. It was wet, yes. But not that wet.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… Was Wayne Bennett really smiling in the coaches’ box? (Yes! He was!)
Michael De Vere played his first game in the NRL since 2004 which in NRL terms is Lazarus-like. And not Glenn Lazarus. (Though if he did come back it would indeed be Lazarus-like. Lazarus-Lazarus-like, even.)
And! A special mention for Big Israel. This bloke is capital-F Fantastic under the bomb, whether in attack or defence. Could be playing for Hawthorn. What a weapon.
Bad Boys… Wendell might carry on like he’s “bad” and though he was spoken to by the referees, his form of “bad” is more the cartoon villain than as a genuinely naughty player. Welcome back to one of the great characters.
Refs Watch… Justin Hodges was about to be tackled into touch when he dropped the ball back on the deck before Israel Folau picked it up and plonked it over the line. Try? No Try. Knock-on, apparently. Seems the Drop Ball rule still rules the referees, folks. Drop ball is 80 per cent knock-on, whether they are or not. It’s drop ball rule, like in touch.
NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – Jamie Soward (Dragons): Superb game from a fairly maligned footy player. Uncle Benny has him dancing; 2 points – Michael Weyman (Dragons): A power of work up front really laid the platform for the backs; 1 point – Matt Prior (Dragons): Tackled the Broncos into the dust.
Dragons 25 (B Creagh, J Soward, W Sailor, B Morris tries; J Soward 4 goals; J Soward 1 field goal) def Brisbane 12 (I Folau, D Lockyer tries; C Parker 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 42,435.