Brisbane’s incredible unbeaten record remains intact after surviving a scare against the Dragons but it could come at a huge cost.
A gallant St George Illawarra Dragons have challenged the dominance of three-time NRLW champions, the Brisbane Broncos, in the top of the table clash on Sunday afternoon
Through hard-hitting defence pressuring the all-conquering Broncos, the Dragons fought valiantly to keep scores level most of the match with the 18-all deadlock broken only by a Hagiga Modsby try in the final five minutes at Parramatta’s CommBank Stadium.
The Broncos defied surge after surge from St George Illawarra after bouncing out to a fast start, leading 12-6 at half-time and winning 22-18 to maintain top spot on the ladder, undefeated after three rounds.
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“We just learned a few tough lessons today about what it takes to be a championship side and they showed us,” Dragons’ coach Jamie Soward said post-match.
He said little things like the Emma Togenato fumble at the back that led to the Broncos second try cost the Dragons was an example, ultimately proving the difference.
“Just backing our defence, I think the tries we conceded weren’t within our defensive plans, rushed and tried to solve it ourselves,” Soward said.
“I think with the women’s game at the moment, if you give a team an early start, it’s hard to pull back.”
Less broken hands could also help the Dragons, as Soward reflected, with Tegan Dymock becoming the fourth broken hand in three weeks.
Brisbane maintained their enviable record of never losing an NRLW match after scoring the first try and have lost just one game in their history.
The only other team to beat Brisbane in the previous three seasons was the New Zealand Warriors in 2019.
INJURY CONCERN FOR UPTON
NRLW’s leading tryscorer this season Tamika Upton suffered a head clash to the jaw in the second half.
The Brisbane fullback clashed heads with Keele Brown returning the ball from her own line early in the stanza, taking both players from the field.
ALBERT WINS BATTLE UPFRONT
Papua New Guinean International Elsie Albert was herculean continuing a breakout season for the Dragons.
Her barge-over-try with under 10 minutes remaining levelled the scores at 18 apiece was crucial, with less than 10 minutes to go in the end-to-end contest, coupling 158 run metres and 23 tackles.
“What is the jukebox because the hits keep on coming,” Tarsha Gale said on Fox commentary.
In the battle upfront, she got the better of Millie Boyle narrowly, who ran 144 metres and made 20 tackles.
Backrowers Shaylee Bent (Dragons) and Amber Hall (Broncos) constantly challenged the line with 189 and 164 run metres respectively, in a gauge of the physicality of Sunday’s encounter.
APPS CLOSE TO RETURNING
The Dragons taking a cautious approach with captain Kezie Apps with the star Australian and NSW Origin backrower withdrawn 24 hours out from kick off after being named earlier in the week.
Coach Jamie Soward said Apps – who is recovering from a hand injury – was close to playing on Sunday, explaining that “if it was a semi-final, she’d be playing” and confirmed post-match she would be playing next week. Apps has missed the last two matches.
Report: Two reports in three minutes rock Knights
Newcastle coach Casey Bromilow was left scratching his head after prop Ngatokotoru Arakua was put on report twice in three minutes for seemingly innocuous tackles in their 28-12 NRLW loss to the Sydney Roosters.
Arakua was penalised toward the end of the first half on Saturday when she planted a strong hit on quick-footed Roosters’ centre Jessica Sergis.
“(It was) one of those tackles where, watching it, I first thought, ‘That’s a great rugby league tackle’,” Bromilow said.
“It’s one of those ones where, as kids, you’re taught to get under the ball and drive … You do that tackle probably 99 other times and it’s play on.
Two minutes later, Arakua was sin-binned for sending Keilee Joseph just above horizontal, with the refereeing deeming it an illegal spear-tackle.
Knights captain Romy Teitzel claimed the definition of dangerous contact in NRLW seemed to be shifting “week-in, week-out”.
“I had a similar tackle given to me from Hannah Southwell a few minutes earlier,” she said.
“That’s the women’s game, a big tackle like that doesn’t happen too often, so they really look into it.”
The Knights remain the only side winless through the opening three weeks of the season.
LETHAL LEFT EDGE
The Roosters entered the game without a win over the opening fortnight of the competition but made the most of the Knights being down a player for 10 minutes.
Dry grass and blue skies at the SCG seemed worlds away from the sodden fields of last week, giving the Tricolours opportunity to throw the ball wide cleanly early.
Centre Isabelle Kelly’s footwork and quick hands proved a lethal combination next to the speed of Brydie Parker, with each scoring tries in the first half.
Parker completed her brace in the opening minutes of the second.
Captain Corban Baxter also had an immediate impact on the team’s confidence after missing the first two rounds with COVID-19.
She was on the end of every Knights kick and set up several game-changing plays, making 10 runs and 85 metres.
“Having Corbs back was really good,” said Roosters coach John Strange.
“That also pushes Brydie Parker out to the wing … [Parker] scored two tries and set up another one up from the wing.
“It was a real knock-on effect having Corbs back.”
SCARY MOMENT FOR SERGIS
Sergis fell awkwardly in her first-half collision with Arakua and appeared to be clutching at a heavily strapped right knee in a moment that had Roosters’ hearts in throats.
However, after a minute of medical attention, Sergis hobbled up and played outstanding late minutes, including a one-on-one strip and her first try as a Rooster.
The NRLW continues on Sunday with a double-header at CommBank Stadium, beginning with a top-of-the-table clash between ladder-leaders Brisbane and second-placed St George Illawarra. The winner all but secures their spot in the semi-finals, with a further two games remaining in the five-round season.
The round concludes with expansion side Parramatta hosting their first game in their history, against fellow newcomers Gold Coast.
Originally published as NRLW Round 3 results: Sickening head clash sours Broncos’ win over Dragons