The Dragons have given Dean Young the perfect start to his six-week tenure as head coach with a 28-24 win over a gallant Brisbane side at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Former Broncos Corey Norman and Ben Hunt both had massive games with the boot and in general play for the Dragons with a 70-metre Norman kick at the death getting the visitors a vital repeat set to close the game out.
The Dragons kept their slim finals hopes alive with the win to go to 12 competition points.
The St George Illawarra right side was on fire with Zac Lomax and Mikaele Ravalawa causing plenty of headaches. The flying Fijian took his tally to 12 tries for the season with another rampaging double.
The Broncos showed plenty of steel to fight their way back into the game after a dire start with half Tom Dearden, centre Kotoni Staggs and captain Patrick Carrigan all superb.
Match: Broncos v Dragons
Round 15 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Dragons prop Josh Kerr tore through threadbare goal line defence to open the scoring with Brisbane front-rowers Joe Ofahengaue and Rhys Kennedy caught on their heels.
Norman sliced through feeble attempts at tackle by Ofahengaue and Ben Te’o and the visitors led 12-0 after five minutes.
Another embarrassing night loomed for the Broncos but they steadied after the early onslaught and it was no surprise that Darius Boyd was the provider for a Richie Kennar try with a cut-out pass after providing the extra man.
Ill-discipline cost the Dragons and Brisbane made them pay with Cory Paix showing great strength near the line to burrow over and level the scores after 25 minutes.
Staggs destroys the Dragons defence
St George Illawarra went ahead courtesy of a Lomax penalty before Matt Dufty threw a searing left to right pass to cut-out three Broncos and hit a flying Ravalawa, with the Fijian trampling Boyd to score wide out to give his side an 18-12 lead at the break.
Staggs then put in his nomination for try of the year with a stunning 75-metre effort which left Euan Aitken, Adam Clune and Dufty in his wake.
Dufty was soon involved in a kick and chase where Carrigan impeded his ability to follow through and Lomax landed the penalty to give the Dragons a 20-18 lead.
Milford left the field with a hamstring strain and Paix went into the halves to partner Dearden.
Clune put in a pearler of a kick to get the Dragons a repeat set and Lomax showcased all his immense skill as a centre to hold the ball up and with silky hands put Ravalawa over for his second. Lomax landed the sideline conversion to make it 26-18.
Dearden took the initiative with Milford off the field and swivelled on the last play near the tryline to score and cut the margin to just two points.
Brilliant pass from Dufty sends Ravalawa in
The Broncos showed plenty of resilience at the back end of the game, which had previously been their Achilles heel, but were unable to apply the knockout blow.
The Dragons prevailed on the back of superb kicking by Clune, Hunt and Norman who were able to get the field position they needed when it counted.
Broncos coach Peter Gentle was proud of the fight and commitment of his team after a difficult week in which prop Payne Haas lost his older brother Chace at the age of just 21.
"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.
"At the end of the day they are there to play footy and tonight we saw a step in the right direction where they were able to park that. They all wore black arm bands so there was a part of Payne out there with them tonight."
Young was pleased with the Dragons putting another full 80-minute performance together but warned his players not to be complacent.
"I want to know what we are going to get from the Dragons each week. At the moment – our fans and everybody – we don’t know what we are going to get from this team," Young said.
"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.
"We have put two 80-minute performances together and that is a step in the right direction but we are a long, long way off being as good as the top sides.
"They are aware of that. I have told them that and all we can do is keep improving."
Young said Korbin Sims had a suspected calf injury after leaving the field at the end of the game in distress.