A Corey Norman field goal with seconds remaining has given the Dragons a stunning 25-24 win over the Broncos on a night where St George Illawarra fullback Gareth Widdop suffered a dislocated shoulder.
With the scores locked at 24-all in the 78th minute Brisbane winger Jamayne Isaako missed with his attempt to break the deadlock before Norman calmly potted the one-pointer against his former club from 30m out.
The Broncos had tied it up in the 73rd minute when Kotoni Staggs broke through and his pass was toed ahead by Darius Boyd.
Widdop appeared to have it covered near the tryline when he suffered an agonising shoulder injury while tackled by Boyd.
The ball popped loose and Jack Bird swooped to score as Widdop left the field clutching his right shoulder, which he twice dislocated last year.
A Ben Hunt masterclass fired the Dragons to victory on a night where coach Paul McGregor’s spine finally clicked, before the disaster that befell Widdop.
Match: Broncos v Dragons
Round 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS
Playing against his former club Hunt’s running, passing and kicking game was on song with his combination with five-eighth Norman working a treat.
McGregor made a late change to leave Matt Dufty out of the side and bring Zac Lomax onto the bench. Hunt, Norman, Widdop and Cameron McInnes knew they would be playing the whole game together with no tweaks and as a result the Dragons attack flowed throughout the match.
The Broncos forwards, so dominant the week before against the Cowboys, were outplayed by a Dragons pack led by prop Paul Vaughan who ran for 189m.
Tevita Pangai jnr came crashing back to earth with two defensive errors leading to Dragons tries. The NSW Blues hopeful also gave away a penalty in the play the ball that led to a Dragons try.
The Dragons forwards gained the ascendancy early, with the running games of centre Euan Aitken, winger Jordan Pereira and Hunt featuring prominently.
Hooker McInnes opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he went on a 40m run through the teeth of the defence and threw a dummy that bamboozled Boyd to score.
Six minutes later a switch of play by Hunt to Tim Lafai found Jordan Pereira who scored in the corner.
In the 25th minute a try was awarded to the Broncos after the video referee ruled Dragons winger Mikaela Ravalawa had lost the ball in a tackle and that it was not tipped out by Bird. The ball was propelled forward and Corey Oates swopped to score his fifth try of the season.
The Dragons threatened again courtesy of Hunt’s running game before an alert James Roberts snaffled a Widdop kick on the full to race 91m to give the Broncos a 12-10 lead at half-time.
St George Illawarra, after making seven line breaks to two in the first half, started the second stanza on top courtesy of Broncos errors. It was Hunt’s scheming that was rewarded, in combination with Norman, to provide for Ravalawa.
After a Widdop penalty the Dragons appeared set to put the foot down before Anthony Milford came to life with a deft short kick for Alex Glenn to level the scores at 18-all in the 55th minute.
The momentum swung again when Korbin Sims, also playing against his old club, crashed through a Pangai tackle at close range to score.
The Broncos hit back through Bird before the bittersweet drama-charged final minutes for the Dragons where Norman’s heroics were soured by Widdop’s injury.