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Gareth Widdop leaves the field with a shoulder injury in round 3.

Dragons coach Paul McGregor and his players were "shattered" and "sad" for injured fullback Gareth Widdop in the wake of  their inspirational skipper dislocating his right shoulder in the closing stages of the 25-24 win over the Broncos.

On a night when the Dragons spine of Widdop at fullback - in combination with hooker Cameron McInnes and halves Corey Norman and Ben Hunt -  clicked into top gear for the first time this season the injury to the English international is a cruel blow.

McGregor was devastated for Widdop but said in Matt Dufty, who had a breakout season at fullback in 2018, he had "a ready made replacement" to slot in.

Widdop, who is facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines, suffered the injury while trying to clean up a kick by Darius Boyd which led to  a Jack Bird try. He dislocated the same shoulder twice last year.

"Unfortunately tonight we lost Gaz. It is bad. I'm not a doctor but he's uncomfortable. It's dislocated," McGregor said.

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"We have got a ready-made replacement in Dufty. You don't ever want to see your captain and your playmaker, who has been the best player at the club for a number of years, laying on the bench with a dislocated shoulder.

"It is sad and it is part of the game we don't enjoy, but we have got young Duft who played our whole season last year at fullback.

"Norman is a left-sided player with a left foot kick and we've got Hunty on the other side so we have a ready-made replacement there [at fullback]."

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Prop Paul Vaughan, who was outstanding for the Dragons in a forward pack that dominated the Broncos, said he was "absolutely shattered" for Widdop.

"He is such a passionate bloke and a huge, huge member of our team," Vaughan told

"Gareth is such an inspirational skipper and I am absolutely shattered for him. He's a great bloke, who I love to death, but the boys will get around him and he will have our full support.

"Dufty will slot in at the back now and we have the depth to cover for Gareth…unfortunately because it is a terrible thing."

McGregor said he was pleased with the performance of the entire spine and wasn't surprised that Norman put his hand up with seven seconds remaining to land the field goal that clinched the first win of the season for the Dragons.

"Corey is one of those players that goes to the game in important moments, and that is what you want from your playmakers," McGregor said.

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