Tariq marched twice for foul play as new-age Baby Broncos leave Dragons red-faced

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Dragons forward Tariq Sims spent a costly 20 minutes in the sin bin as a new-age Baby Broncos line-up took full advantage of his ill discipline to record a resounding 32-18 victory at Suncorp Stadium.

Brisbane were wearing their retro uniform honouring the 30th anniversary of the 1992 premiership-winning team but they evoked the spirit of the “Baby Broncos” of two decades ago who upset Wests Tigers with a heavily Origin-depleted side to etch their names into club folklore. 

They’ve reclaimed fifth spot from the Eels and Rabbitohs, who had skipped ahead of them earlier in the round, and are now looking all but certain to return to the finals after two years dwelling in the NRL cellar.

The Dragons were missing skipper Ben Hunt, in Maroons camp, but were otherwise at full strength and have now slipped out of the top eight and judging on Sunday’s form, will be lucky to avoid finishing among the also-rans for a fourth straight season.

Sims was was unlucky to be marched the first time around but in the second incident he could have been sent off for forceful contact to the head of an opponent but referee Grant Atkins opted to give him another 10 to cool his heels.

Adam Reynolds, along with St George Illawarra’s chances, took a hit in the third minute. Sims tackled the Brisbane half fractionally after he passed out wide and Atkins put the Dragons veteran in the sin bin in what was a harsh call. 

“Are you serious? That will do me. That is just disgusting. Honestly, that’s a millisecond,” former international Paul Vautin fumed on Nine commentary. “If Sims comes and doesn’t make that tackle and Reynolds goes through the hole, then he’s in trouble from the coach.”

It cost the visitors a couple of minutes later when the Broncos exploited their overlap with centre Brenko Lee popping up a pass for Delouise Hoeter to bounce over out wide. 

Hoeter was a late inclusion on the wing for the Suncorp Stadium showdown after Corey Oates was called up by Queensland due to COVID ruling Murray Taulagi and Cameron Munster out of Origin II on Wednesday night at the same venue.  

Cody Ramsey turned on the afterburners to make Reynolds feel old on his 32nd birthday and the fullback outpaced the cover defence to give the visitors a 6-4 lead in the 17th minute. 

Sims was banished back to the bin in the 25th minute for a high shot on bench forward Rhys Kennedy and the Broncos again capitalised on the next set, this time via Tesi Niu muscling over from short range for a 10-6 advantage. 

The 12-man Dragons regained the lead in the 33rd minute when centre Moses Suli submitted his audition to be a rodeo cowboy, leaving four Broncos in the dust as he powered to the line. 

Moments after Sims returned to the fray for the second time, Kotoni Staggs accelerated with an in-and-away manoeuvre which made Suli look silly and gave the home side a 16-12 half-time cushion. 

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 10: Tariq Sims of the Dragons is sin binned during the round 17 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium, on July 10, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Tariq Sims is sin-binned during the round 17 match between the Brisbane Broncos and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Broncos went into the clash with 10 first-graders absent with Oates, Kurt Capewell, Selwyn Cobbo and Patrick Carrigan on Origin duty while Payne Haas and Te Maire Martin headlined the list of injured starters.

One of Brisbane’s replacements, debutant Zac Hosking, got a taste of NRL intensity early in the second half when he was laid out in a legitimate hit from opposing second-rower Jaydn Su’A.

Hoeter put the Broncos up 20-12 in the 50th minute when Zac Lomax and Mikaele Ravalawa were caught backpedalling close to the goal line with the winger crossing for a training drill four-pointer in the corner.

Sims was part of a game-ending incident when Broncos bench utility Cory Paix got his head in the wrong place in trying to tackle him but this time the former NSW forward was not in strife.

The Dragons team was in trouble a few minutes later when Brisbane lock Kobe Hetherington found a gap in the middle and Niu in support and the fullback sent rookie five-eighth Ezra Mam sprinting away for a 26-12 buffer, much to the delight of the vast majority of the 29,234-strong crowd.

Brisbane made it 32-12 midway through the second period when Niu’s cut-out pass sent winger Jordan Pereira galloping down the right flank before kicking infield as Staggs scorched across the Suncorp Stadium surface to score.

With Ravalawa limping off with a hamstring problem, St George Illawarra’s minute chances were shrinking by the minute.

Ramsey gave them a sniff eight minutes from full-time when he cashed in on a Jack Bird offload to reduce the gap to 14.

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