Broncos rebound to trounce Dragons

Brisbane have bounced back to winning ways with a convincing 32-6 victory over St George Illawarra on Friday night.

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The Broncos will hold on to the NRL top spot for at least another week after the six-tries-to-one win, which ends a two-game losing run.

The Dragons, with Benji Marshall unavailable due to a hamstring strain, threw up a surprise when coach Paul McGregor named forward Jack De Belin at halfback.

The gamble didn’t pay dividends however with the Dragons dominating territory in the first half but coming off the field 16-0 behind at the break.

The Broncos, who only had 11 tackles inside the Dragons’ 20 in the first half, made the most of every trip through tries to Jordan Kahu, Lachlan Maranta and Anthony Milford.

The Dragons came closest when Kahu dithered over a kick in-goal but winger Justin Hunt somehow overshot the ball as he attempted to pounce on it.

A double to Broncos halfback Ben Hunt in the second half sealed the points as coach Wayne Bennett claimed just a second win in 14 matches against his former club.

A late consolation try by Justin Hunt at least limited the damage to the Dragons’ percentage as they battle to stay in the top eight.

St George Illawarra also lost captain Ben Creagh after he failed a concussion test at halftime and had to sit out the rest of the match.

McGregor said he decided to opt with De Belin as rookie half Drew Hutchinson was too much of a risk in the high-stakes contest.

“I just thought defensively, to start the game, we needed our best defensive side out there and obviously Jack’s a part of that,” McGregor said.

“We just couldn’t get across that stripe.

“The change of the half didn’t make that much of a difference with 30-odd points being scored against us.

“Drew is still only learning the trade and it was a very important game. To put him under that pressure from the start is not the right thing to do.”

Broncos coach Bennett said his team’s improved ball control from last weekend’s 18-16 loss to Canterbury was the biggest plus.

“We defended great last week and defended good again tonight under pressure on the tryline,” he said.

“I’d like to see us build a bit more pressure at times ourselves so we’re down the other end of the field more often than on our tryline but if that’s not going to happen right now, we’re strong enough to defend it.”