Tariq Sims powers through Brisbane defence for hat-trick as Dragons obliterate Broncos in NRL playoffs

It seems St George Illawarra's late season fadeout is officially over.

The form guide was thrown out the window after a first half hat-trick by Tariq Sims propelled the Dragons to a stunning 48-18 NRL elimination final win over title contenders Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.

The Dragons booked a semi-final showdown with South Sydney on Saturday with the seven tries-to-three romp in front of 47,296 fans - St George Illawarra's first victory at the venue since 2009.

Remarkably the Dragons did it without playmaker Gareth Widdop (shoulder), James Graham (concussion) and NSW lock Jack de Belin (ankle), after they failed to finish the game.

It marked the first time the Dragons had won a final since claiming the 2010 premiership.

Brisbane are suddenly out of the title race after having their streak of seven straight finals wins at Suncorp sensationally snapped.

The Dragons weren't expected to show much resistance after leading the ladder up until round 16, only to limp into the finals in seventh with six losses in their past nine games.

And the omens weren't good when Brisbane jumped to a 10-2 lead after 17 minutes.

But St George Illawarra came alive off a string of Korbin Sims errors to pile on four tries in 18 minutes - including three to brother and backrower Tariq Sims - to snatch a shock 28-10 halftime lead.

They didn't have it all their own way as Brisbane threatened to launch a comeback when Widdop came off in the 55th minute after aggravating a shoulder injury that had sidelined him for the last three weeks.

The Broncos crossed twice through skipper Darius Boyd (52nd) and halfback Kodi Nikorima (55th) in three minutes to cut the deficit to 34-18 and give the stunned local fans hope.

But the Dragons stood up with ex-Broncos halfback Ben Hunt steering his team without Widdop in a happy homecoming after copping vile social media abuse during his side's late season stumble.

Brisbane lost key forwards Joe Ofehengaue (concussion) and David Fifita (ankle).

Instead of another title, Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett is now expected to contemplate his future after the Broncos board knocked back his proposal to stay on to the 2020 season.

He is locked in for 2019 but there is speculation Bennett may not see out his contract.

It was Bennett's 27th finals campaign and 65th finals match.


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Watch: Sam Burgess speaks about Rabbitohs' Auckland sexting scandal - 'I'm happy for the truth to come out'

South Sydney superstar Sam Burgess hopes the NRL's integrity unit will finalise its investigation into the sexting scandal, which has engulfed the club, within the next two days.

Burgess addressed reporters today, saying he's keen for the "truth to come out" about allegations lewd images were sent to a young woman from one of his social media accounts, after a match earlier this season.

"While the investigation is going on we've been told to publicly make no comment ... I'm following the process," Burgess said before Saturday's preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters.

"I'm not going into the detail of anything.

"I'm happy for the truth to come out.

"That's going to be my answer to the majority of your questions.

"Hopefully within 24 hours, 48 hours I think it should be resolved."

The saga has overshadowed the Rabbitohs' preparations for their grand final qualifier against their traditional rivals at Allianz Stadium.

Burgess thanked his friends and family for their recent support during a "tricky few days".

"It's been a tough process to go through, (for) the family together, but fortunately I've got a strong wife," he said.

"A wife who loves me. I've got great family, great friends, great support around me.

"You do feel it but I've had certain experiences in my life before, had serious emotions I've had to deal with, and football has always been great for me."

Burgess hopes the issue will be solved in the next two days. Source: 9 NEWS Sydney


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Broncos star treating match against Warriors as Kiwi Ferns trial - 'Everyone is in the running to get a black jersey'

They call her The Jukebox because when damaging Brisbane back-rower Teuila Fotu- Moala takes the field, the hits keep coming.

And the New Zealand star has vowed to be on song in Friday's NRL Women's Premiership final round clash with the Warriors in Melbourne, likening it to a Kiwi Ferns trial.

Fotu-Moala - player of the 2017 Women's World Cup - has been the key to a perfect season start for Brisbane who can seal a grand-final berth with a third straight victory.

But Fotu-Moala is also eyeing off October's Auckland Test against the Jillaroos and hopes to stake a claim by overcoming Warriors back-rower Onjeurlina Leiataua.

"It's almost like a Kiwi Ferns trial because everyone is pretty much in the running to get into that black jersey at the end of the season," she said of the October 13 Test.

"The biggest match-up for me would be Onjeurlina.

"She's explosive, strong, powerful and eats a lot of metres. She's one to watch out for."

Fotu-Moala is good mates with Leiataua and knows the bulk of the Warriors squad after they played together in the Auckland competition.

That won't earn them any favours on Friday at AAMI Park in the curtain raiser for the Melbourne-Cronulla NRL preliminary final.

"When we saw that we were playing the Warriors I knew I had to get more aggressive this week," Fotu-Moala said.

"I need to do what I can to match them because they will be coming for us, I know that.

"Maybe some of us will be targets for them.

"It's mixed feelings (playing mates). I have a soft spot for my friends - off the field, not on the field."

Teuila Fotu-Moala on attack. Kiwi Ferns v England, Women’s Rugby League World Cup Semi Final at Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sydney, Australia on 26 November 2017. Copyright Image: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Teuila Fotu-Moala on attack for the Kiwi Ferns against England. Source: Photosport


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Off-contract Warriors veteran Issac Luke approached by Newcastle Knights - report

The Warriors are reportedly locked in a battle to keep Issac Luke on the books for next year with the Newcastle Knights looking to steal away the off-contract international hooker.

The Newcastle Herald reports Knights head coach Nathan Brown used the most of his time while in camp with the All Blacks in Wellington last week to meet up with Luke and his agent Bruce Sharrock.

The Knights are on the hunt for another hooker to replace another Kiwi Slade Griffin, who suffered his fourth season-ending injury earlier this year.

Luke has been in prolonged discussions with the Warriors to remain in Auckland but with the club taking out big contracts to secure the talents of Blake Green, Tohu Harris, Adam Blair and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, there is little money left in the salary cap for the 31-year-old.

The club has St George Illawara front rower Leeson Ah Mau joining the club next season after signing a three year deal.

While the Warriors have promising talent Nathaniel Roache returning to the squad next season after spending 2018 recovering from a back surgery, the 22-year-old only has 20 NRL games under his belt and the club hoped he could learn more about his role from Luke.

It was reported earlier this year the Eels were also looking to sign Luke but there have been no known further advancements made by them.

Warriors hooker Issac Luke. Vodafone Warriors v  St George Illawarra Dragons. NRL Rugby League. Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand. Friday 19 May 2017 © Copyright Photo: Bruce Lim / www.Photosport.nz
Warriors hooker Issac Luke in action against St George Illawarra Dragons. Source: Photosport


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Is Nathan Cleary about to sign new Panthers deal? Phil Gould says yes, Cleary silent

NRL star Nathan Cleary is expected to turn his back on potential rival offers to re-sign with Penrith, sooner rather than later.

Panthers supremo Phil Gould said the 20-year-old halfback intended to ink a new deal in the near future to remain at the club.

"It'll get done shortly," he told Nine's 100% Footy last night.

Off contract at the end of next season, Cleary has previously said he would push talks on a new deal back to November 1 when opposition clubs are allowed to come to the negotiating table.

The NSW State of Origin series winner has been open about his long-term ambition to one day play under his father, Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary.

The Panthers' season, sidetracked by the sacking of coach Anthony Griffin just four weeks out from the NRL Finals, came to an end with a one-point loss to Cronulla on Friday.

Cleary could have levelled the match with a late field goal but his attempt sailed wide.

Gould hasn't spoken to Cleary to discuss terms since the semi-final defeat to the Sharks.

"I haven't found him for a couple of days," he said.

Nathan Cleary. Vodafone Warriors v Penrith Panthers, Round 19 of the 2017 NRL Rugby League Premiership season at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. 14 July 2017. Copyright photo: Renee McKay / www.photosport.nz
Panthers half Nathan Cleary in action against the Warriors. Source: Photosport


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