FULL TIME - As they did in Round 1 last year, the Dragons have kicked off their 2018 campaign with a comprehensive win by the tune of 34 points to 12 over a very underwhelming Broncos team.
Good signs again for the Dragons after Leeson Ah Mau burst through some defenders and attempted to link with Kurt Mann but the utility could not hang onto it and that will be the game it appears.
Widdop misses his first of the night.
It was spectacular and perhaps a tad painful... but the winger has the try!
A long ball by Hunt sees Jason Nightingale dive over in the corner! Time for the Bunker!
The Dragons have another chance to add to their already dominant lead after Jaydn Su'a puts a shot on Paul Vaughan despite the fact that the prop did not even have the ball. Saints will have a full set 10 out.
A deep kick off by Anthony Milford and Paul Vaughan is forced to charge hard to make it up to the 10 metre line. James Graham and Kurt Mann take hit-ups to try force their way up field but Hunt is forced to kick from halfway on the last and Jamayne Isaako is there to clean up.
Widdop maintains his perfect strike rate.
Poor defence from Brisbane as Jack de Belin barges over next to the posts.
Penalty Saints and Jason Nightingale taps and sprints away to the Broncos 30 metre line. Vaughan picks up the slack and charges to the 10 metre line. Jack de Belin does the same but goes all the way and scores!
It is just not Brisbane's night... Kodi Nikorima's pass is dropped by Tevita Pangai Junior on halfway. The Dragons get another chance to seal the result as Graham takes them to Brisbane's 30 metre line on the 3rd. Hunt puts in a kick but it is way too big and not executed well at all given the lack of a chase.
Hunt goes for the one-pointer but hits the post.
Brisbane finally look to be finding some energy but Tevita Pangai Junior drops it off an inside ball on halfway. Dragons 20 out and have a chance to close this out.
Kahu kicks it and Brisbane have an outside chance.
A great ball by Boyd puts Roberts through easily! Great lead up work by Kodi Nikorima in creating the space, it is just game management where the five-eighth and his halves partner Anthony Milford are struggling.
Hunt searched down the left-hand side and looked to link with Lafai but the centre overran it and gave the ball to Nikorima. A penalty has seen Brisbane march into the Dragons' 20 and they have scored!
Saints are out-enthusing the Broncos now and this could get very embarrassing if the Dragons keep it up.
I had Brisbane in fifth this year... it is only Round One but if they continue like this they look certainties to miss the eight. Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima are really not imposing their authority in the way they need to.
Gareth Widdop curls it through and the Dragons lead 24-6.
Widdop cuts out the defence after finding Aitken with a bullet-like ball and the centre powers his way over to likely put this one to bed.
The difference between the two sides tonight has been the halves. Widdop and Hunt are controlling things nicely while Milford and Nikorima are struggling and the latter just put in a terrible kick which went dead, inviting the Dragons to march up field.
Widdop nails his fifth goal of the night.
Nikorima puts in a great grubber that slices through the St. George defence but the bounce beats all of the Brisbane players. Now Roberts is penalised for pulling the ball from Dufty's hands... a cheap one to concede and a dumb play from the centre. Saints kick off their set on halfway. Ah Mau makes a strong run to the Brisbane 30 and receives a penalty for offside. Widdop will shoot for two from straight in front.
A terrible mistake. Leeson Ah Mau drops the ball 20 out from his own line and now the Dragons' momentum is gone and Brisbane have a perfect chance to strike back.
Widdop makes it 16-6.
Matt Lodge's long ball to Anthony Milford is read perfectly by the former Brisbane halfback and he suddenly shatters the Broncos comeback, haunting his former teammates in the process.
A very odd last tackle option by the Dragons... Hunt fumbles it but play on is called and a bomb is rushed. Brisbane let it go and Vaughan takes it but is ruled offside.
Kahu hits it wide.
SLICK! Roberts finds space off the scrum and links with Jamayne Isaako who looked like he was going out - but he flicked it inside and the speedster sliced over! Game on!
Milford's kick on the last is an awkward one as Jason Nightingale looks for the sideline to try make the five-eighth's kick out on the full but he drops it. Brisbane get a perfect chance to strike back after a mediocre start to this one. They have looked very disorganised in attack though.
Tim Lafai looks to get on the outside of James Roberts and looks to offload for Jason Nightingale but Lafai lacks the awareness and flicks it over the sideline.
Everything is going pear-shaped for the Broncos... Josh Mcguire is forced to kick on the last... should I say anymore? It is a terrible one and Saints are already 20 out on the 2nd.
The second halfway is underway with Joe Ofahengaue taking the first hit-up and meeting a solid tackle by Jeremy Latimore. Andrew McCullough kicks early and Matt Dufty fields it before taking off to the 40 metre line.
Broncos have completed 8 of 16 sets - speaks volumes for why they are behind.
HALF TIME - After a scrappy start, the Dragons are hitting their straps and lead a disappointing Broncos outfit 10-2 at the break. Second half to come!
ALMOST MAGICAL! Hunt kicks inside for Widdop and he catches it on the full but he is called offside. So close to being a special try before the break.
Another goal line drop out is forced after Widdop kicked towards the posts and trapped Gillett.
The strong field position was courtesy of a great short ball on the inside from Widdop to Dufty which saw the fullback sprint away to the 10 metre line.
Hunt grubbers on the last and chases himself forcing Boyd to take it dead. Saints will have one final chance to post points before the break.
Another error... this time Milford in a strong tackle by Widdop.
The Broncos survive after a penalty is conceded by Lafai for obstructing Roberts' chances of taking Dufty. Brisbane march up to their 40 metre line to kick off their set.
Dragons get six again after Isaako fails to catch a towering bomb on the last.
Widdop kicks the Dragons out to an 8 point lead.
It is a try! Frizell shows determination to beat Milford to the Hunt grubber and the new halfback has his first try-assist in the Red V.
Hunt puts through a deft grubber and Frizell is ruled by Cecchin to have grounded it first! Checking with the Bunker.
Another error... this one from Oates 10 metres out and Saints have a big shot to post the first try of the night.
The Broncos spread it to the left again but a strong tackle from Aitken forces the error from Kahu. The Dragons survive and start their set on their own 10. Leeson Ah Mau makes a strong run before Tariq Sims takes it up before being met with a big shot by brother Korbin. Saints reach the Brisbane 40 on the last and run it but Boyd cleans up the Widdop grubber.
Brisbane get a shot to score the first try of the night after an error from Lafai trying to clean up a bomb on his line.
SO CLOSE! An excellent left side spread sees Boyd find Oates out wide but it is called forward.
Tyson Frizell hits Corey Oates high as he brings the ball back and the penalty is blown. Brisbane kick off the set on halfway.
No worries for the number 6.
The Dragons earn a penalty courtesy of an offside call and Saints opt for the two. Yawn.
Now Lodge comes up with error 40 out... this one is getting embarrassing.
More ill-discipline from the Broncos with Lodge throwing an arm around Graham's neck. Saints start their set 40 out after a strong run from Aitken off the tap. Frizell and Vaughan continue the charge but the latter comes up with an error. A very sloppy start from both sides to this one.
Widdop slots it over.
The Dragons nab a penalty and will even it up with a penalty goal.
The errors continue to come... now Sam Thaiday fumbles it after what appeared to be a strong run. Neither side are getting into the groove. Dragons with a full set to come 40 out from the Brisbane line.
No mistake from the centre and Brisbane have an early lead.
James Graham comes up with an error whilst taking the ball up and Brisbane have an early chance 20 out before receiving a penalty courtesy of Jack de Belin slowing the play the ball down. They will kick for 2.
Isaako takes the opening hit-up for Brisbane before Glenn and Gillett make strong carries to see the Broncos march into the Dragons' 30. Nikorima puts up a bomb on the last and Boyd has it but the Red V swarm on him.
McInnes now cleverly milks a penalty after struggling to play the ball with Milford not clearing the play the ball area quickly enough. The Dragons kick off their set on halfway but already come up with an error courtesy of a tap on by Lafai ruled as forward. An error-riddled start to this one with neither side looking overly slick with the ball in hand.
The Broncos start their set 40 out. McGuire takes a strong hit-up before Lodge runs towards the 20 metre line on the 3rd. McGuire charges to the 10 metre line on the fourth but Pangai fumbles it on the last and it all comes undone in a sloppy set from Brisbane.
An early penalty is conceded after Tyson Frizell is ruled to have put a shoulder charge on Matt Lodge.
A solid opening set by the Dragons but Hunt's kick is easily fielded by Oates on the 20 metre line.
KICK OFF! We are underway for the first game of the 2018 season!
I don't expect either side to be at their best tonight. Regardless, I am opting for the direction and superior kicking game of the St. George halves to get them home by four.
Finally - the footy is back! An intriguing clash awaits between the Dragons and Broncos. For the home side, Jeremy Latimore replaces Hame Sele on the bench. Meanwhile, the only change for Brisbane sees Tevita Pangai Junior start at hooker with Andrew McCullough reverting back to the bench.
Referees & scorers:
Referees: Matt Cecchin, Alan Shortall
Touch Judges: Nick Beashel, Dave Munro
Video Referee: Ashley Klein, Ben Galea
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (34)
Tries: Tyson Frizell, Ben Hunt, Euan Aitken, Jack de Belin, Jason Nightingale
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (4/5)
Penalty Goals: Gareth Widdop (3/3)
BRISBANE BRONCOS (12)
Tries: James Roberts (2)
Conversions: Jordan Kahu (1/2)
Penalty Goals: Jordan Kahu (1/1)