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Justin Hodges goes down with an expected achilles injuryhttp://c1.puntersparadise.net/news/photos/Justin Hodges goes down with an expected achilles injury-1376209561_n.jpg

Broncos down Dragons 26-24

Justin Hodges goes down with an expected achilles injury

The NRL finals dream is still alive for the Broncos but the season is over for star player Justin Hodges.
Broncos down Dragons 26-24
by AAP

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, Aug 11 AAP - The NRL finals dream is still alive for the Broncos but the season is over for star player Justin Hodges.

Brisbane held out St George Illawarra 26-24 at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday to remain a mathematical finals chance, however, their top eight odds lengthened further after their strike weapon Hodges ruptured his Achilles in the first half.

The taste of victory became bittersweet for Brisbane as they got their head around being without Hodges until mid-2014.

"I'll get some scans but I think so (torn Achilles). I did the right one a couple of years ago, it's a long process, but I've been through it before," Hodges told Channel Nine.

"I will get back at some stage next year, but it's just a bit of a hard road ahead.

"I think it's more a nine to 10 month injury so I hope to be back mid next year."

Hodges' loss is a huge blow to a Brisbane outfit that must win their final four games of the season to remain in the finals hunt.

In front of 31,199, Brisbane extended their two-point halftime lead when Queensland Origin utility Matt Gillett fed off clever lead-up play by Ben Hunt and Jack Reed to cross in the 43rd minute to make it 14-6.

But that only seemed to spark the Dragons.

Pivot Adam Quinlan sealed a double (47th minute) before centre Daniel Vidot combined with Brett Morris down the left flank to score three minutes later and suddenly the visitors were up 18-14 in the 50th minute.

Things seemed to go from bad to worse for Brisbane when Broncos skipper Sam Thaiday struggled to recover from a 58th minute tackle by Trent Merrin.

But Thaiday somehow dusted himself off and bulldozed over moments later to put the hosts ahead 20-18.

Seven minutes after controversially being denied a try for poor grounding by the video referee, hooker Andrew McCullough burrowed over to extend the hosts' lead.

The Dragons ensured some anxious moments for the hosts when Vidot sealed his double in the 38th minute and Josh Dugan converted to make it a two-point game.

Despite losing Hodges, Brisbane still grabbed an 8-6 halftime lead after under 20s winger Jordan Drew celebrated his shock NRL debut with a try.

Moments after Hodges was helped off the field, Drew - a last minute replacement for Lachlan Maranta - pounced on a Gillett back flick to score in the 19th minute.

A dubious penalty and pure weight of possession combined to help Quinlan cross in the 35th minute and lock up the scores 6-6.

But Brisbane grabbed a halftime lead after Dragons hooker Nathan Fien niggled Corey Parker in the play the ball and sparked a melee before Scott Prince potted over the resulting penalty.


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