Origin hopeful Matt Gillett was accused by his coach of trying to do too much last night. But his desire to keep his starting spot helped sink the team he supported as a child.
Winger Gerard Beale, who is expected to join St George Illawarra next year, kicked ahead twice for Gillett – who had posters of the joint venture on his bedroom wall only a few years ago – to kill off the Dragons' comeback 10 minutes from half-time before almost 40,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
Yet in the first half, Gillett could have been forgiven for thinking he was back in his bedroom when he attempted a big hit on Dragon Michael Weyman and reeled out of the collision so badly it's tempting to say he came off third best even though there were only two people involved. Dazed, he took several minutes to get back to his feet.
“He's going alright – I thought he was probably trying to do too much there early, hence that shoulder charge,” Broncos coach Anthony Griffin said. “That might knock him back into shape. He just loves contact, as you've seen in the last few weeks.
"He's chock full of confidence at the moment. I don't want to ever discourage him from doing that. You'd have to look at the replay but the feeling I got from the first 15 minutes was he was looking . . . for the big hit rather than the team play defensively.
“I'm not cross at him, I'm just saying he's got to pick his time.”
Sitting in an icebath in the Brisbane dressing rooms, Gillett told the Herald: “I remember [the Weyman incident]. I've just got to ease up a bit. The coach keeps telling me to to ease up . . . just shooting out of the line, I've got to be a bit smarter and take it easier.
“We were getting a bit worried there but we knew what we had to do. We just had to get back to the basics there.
“I fell in behind [Justin Hodges], "Bealey" [Gerard Beale] got the ball, he kicked it, I followed through and got there. We held on for a win there, our first one at home."
It's understood Gillett has already been pencilled in for a Maroons bench spot. “Everything's coming together nicely (for me),” he said. “I can't really put it down to anything, but I've just got to keep up to that standard and hopefully keep a run-on spot. Corey [Parker] is yet to come back. I want to work hard to keep in there.”
Many St George Illawarra fans would not have even bothered to watch last night's game on one-hour delay after learning their side were 24-0 down at half-time. Corey Norman, Peter Wallace, Andrew McCullough and Alex Glenn scythed through the listless Dragons defence to seemingly set up a certain win.
But St George Illawarra scored three tries in the twinkling of an eye during the second half – the third from a daring Jamie Soward kick for Brett Morris from the scrum – to narrow the margin to eight with 17 to play.
Dragons coach Steve Price said there was no excuse for the first-half showing. “We showed a lot of resolve in the second half,” he said. “We played some positive football and showed some resolve. We had to go back to playing the way the Dragons can play.”
Before kick-off, St George Illawarra staff announced the team would wear black armbands in honour of Matt Prior's brother, who died of a heart attack the previous week. Prior had missed the game against Manly due to his bereavement, which had previously been kept in-house.
BRISBANE 28 (C Norman P Wallace A McCullough A Glenn M Gillett tries P Wallace 4 goals) bt ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 20 (J Nightingale K Stanley B Morris M Prior tries J Soward 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referees: B Cummins/B Suttor. Crowd: 38.012