The St. George Illawarra Dragons have had the perfect start to the 2018 NRL season, with a dominant 34-12 win against the Brisbane Broncos at home.
The match started off slow but the Dragons soon took advantage of a sloppy Brisbane side, who made numerous poor errors.
New recruit Ben Hunt's debut was somewhat overshadowed in the lead-up to the match, but he quickly made himself the centre of attention with a scintillating performance. Hunt set-up a try for Dragons enforcer Tyson Frizell with a nice grubber, and later crossed the stripe himself, pouncing on a lazy pass for an interception.
Channel Nine commentator Phil Gould remarked that Hunt may have heard a call he recognised on the play, as Hunt seemed to read the play perfectly. He perhaps knew who the pass was intended for, and immediately punished his former side.
The man-of-the-match showed off the huge strides his combination with Gareth Widdop has made, as they kept Brisbane at arm's length for most the match.
Red V dominates home opener
Euan Aitken, Jack de Belin, and Jason Nightingale also scored tries for the Red V, with Nightingale's acrobatic, yet painful, finish the nail in the coffin for the Broncos.
The Broncos looked uncharacteristically out of sorts, with careless passes and sloppy errors contributing heavily to their own defeat. Between the loss of Hunt and the plethora of pre-game disruptions regarding , the Broncos seemed to lack direction and discipline throughout much of the 80 minutes.
The only positives to take out of this match for the Broncos were James Roberts' two second-half, as he shook off any pre-season rust he may have had to provide his team with its only tries of the match.
The Dragons now look ahead to their local rivalry against the Cronulla Sharks next Thursday night. After the Dragons' demolition of the Broncos, they should go into the match as early favourites. The Sharks have a tough match on Friday night against the North Queensland Cowboys.
As for the Broncos, they'll be licking their wounds as they head back to the drawing board. They won't win many games this season if they play how they did last night. The Broncos will play the Cowboys next Friday night at Suncorp Stadium, in Brisbane.
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