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Baby Broncos rise above Dragons’ muscle

Tariq Sims was sin-binned twice as St George Illawarra’s Operation Bash Brisbane backfired in a 32-18 NRL loss.

Celebrating 30 years since their first premiership, the Broncos turned back the clock in their retro jersey in front of 29,234 fans on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.

It came despite the Baby Broncos missing 13 of their top-30 list due to State of Origin duties and injuries and with halfback and captain Adam Reynolds copping heavy attention from the outset.

Sims’ late hit on the No.7 earned him 10 minutes in the sin bin and Andrew McCullough was lucky not to join him when he too hit the Brisbane skipper late after a kick.

Sims was lucky to avoid a straight send-off when his shoulder collected Rhys Kennedy’s chin and earned him another 10-minute rest.

Reynolds has a minor fracture of his rib and received a pain-killing injection before the game, but didn’t wear the protective pad that he said hindered him last week against North Queensland

“I expect it; coming off the injury, teams are well prepared … every team does it but I was a bit better prepared than last week,” he said.

Dragons coach Anthony Griffin refuted claims they had purposely targeted Reynolds’ injury.

“We didn’t have a tactic to hit him late or get someone in the sin-bin,” he said.

“You want to take their time away (but) we’re certainly not out there trying to foul him.

“Brisbane, always in this position, in their history … the Baby Broncos always play out of their skin.”

Among the madness there was some open-ended football, late fill-in Delouise Hoeter scoring his first and second NRL tries seven years after his debut.

Cody Ramsey continued his good form with a try and Dragons teammate Moses Suli barged through some soft defence to put the visitors up 12-10.

But they missed their general Ben Hunt, the loss their eighth straight and 12 from 15 games without the halfback since he arrived from Brisbane in 2018.

Back to his best, Kotoni Staggs had a double too, his first a wicked step past Suli and the second coming from a brilliant Jordan Pereira kick after another sharp play down the right edge.

Returning to the No.1, Tesi Niu reminded potential suitors of his talents in a timely performance in the week fullback Reece Walsh’s return to the club was announced.

He scored a powerful solo try from dummy half and had two other try assists, eight tackle breaks, four line-break assists and two-line breaks.

“We had a lot of younger guys out there, but someone else had their birthday today (32-year-old Reynolds) and he’s no baby,” Brisbane coach Kevin Walters said.

“These guys are keeping him young and he led us beautifully. He went missing last week in Townsville (in a loss to the Cowboys), we found him at the airport and it’s good to have him back.”

Victory completed Brisbane’s (10-6) first six-game winning streak at home since 2017 and snapped a two-game losing streak to push them back into fifth on the NRL ladder.

The Dragons (8-8) drop to ninth after arriving on Sunday with four wins from their past five games.

Brisbane interchange hooker Cory Paix was concussed in a tackle while Dragons winger Semi Ravalawa injured his hamstring in a second-half foot race.

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