Broncos v Dragons: Five key points
Milford magic leads Bronco brilliantly, Brisbane forwards match Dragons' big men, Dugan's horror return to Suncorp Stadium and reshuffled Broncos even more potent in attack.
Milford makes Bronco team his own
With the shuffling of the key playmakers Anthony Milford had no choice to step up if the Broncos were to stay in premiership contention but with each week that passes it becomes even clearer that this is now his team.
The mercurial five-eighth is playing with a consistency that comes with experience and his team is reaping the rewards of his increased involvement on both sides of the ruck.
He sent a tracer bullet of a kick at Josh Dugan for the first of Alex Glenn's two tries, switched to the right side and used some sparkling footwork to score himself midway through the first half and created something out of nothing before releasing Corey Oates to score in the corner with 10 minutes to play.
His kicking game is far less haphazard than it used to be and the only criticism you could make was his goal-kicking that returned two success from five attempts.
He might be ready to make this year's finals series his own.
Broncos aim up on Dragons metre-eaters
They came into the game as the top two teams in metres gained but it was evident in the opening exchanges that the Broncos forwards were ready to meet the Dragons' big men with plenty of force.
Tariq Sims was promoted to the starting team in the front row alongside Paul Vaughan but Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire in particular got up off their line and smashed into the St George Illawarra forwards as they tried to make headway from inside their own half.
When the Dragons have been effective this season they have done so on the back of their go-forward but the intensity of the Broncos' defensive line made them every metre.
Dugan's horror return to Brisbane
There were some long-lasting ramifications when Josh Dugan last played in Brisbane and the first 11 minutes could not have gone worse for the New South Wales centre.
The opening try of the night came gift-wrapped for Glenn when Dugan spilled a Milford kick and just when he looked like he was going to make up for it he had the ball knocked free by Oates as he attempted to finish off a spectacular passage of play.
He went some way to making up the lost ground with a clever kick for Paul Vaughan's try in the 16th minute but a heavy knock courtesy of Josh McGuire made it another night of few happy memories for the Dragons No.3.
Broncos more potent minus McCullough
When Andrew McCullough suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Eels a month ago we wondered how Brisbane could fill the void but Wayne Bennett's reshuffle may have just concocted an even more dangerous attacking outfit.
Starting in the hooker role again, Sam Thaiday showed some nice touches out of dummy-half and minutes after coming onto the field Ben Hunt put in a pin-point kick on the second tackle after a line dropout for Jordan Kahu to score.
While Kodi Nikorima was quiet against the Dragons Milford put on yet another scintillating performance and from 1-17 every player looks up not only defensively but also boasting plenty of energy and enthusiasm in attack
Sick and sorry Dragons hanging onto hope
Their preparation was disrupted by illness and injury and now the Dragons need to win both their remaining games if they are to play finals football in 2017.
Nene Macdonald (knee) and Hame Sele (flu) were ruled out prior to kick-off and although those that took the field were brave, the 12-point loss means they need to beat both the Panthers and Bulldogs to be any chance of sneaking in.