CM – Unwanted full-back steals the limelight on De Belin’s NRL return


Jack de Belin returned to give the Dragons what they had been missing for two seasons, but Matt Dufty showed what the Red V had in the years to come with a best-on-ground performance on his squad missing will be a 52-24 win over Brisbane.

De Belin played in his first NRL match since the 2018 finals and was solid without being spectacular as he pulled out of the stand-down game after two and a half years through no fault of his own -Politics.

The Dragons veteran was greeted with great cheers when his name flashed on the big screen before kick-off and then received a standing ovation from 5,107 fans when he headed Daniel Alvaro in the 28th minute was replaced.

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It was a very different reception than the one Matt Lodge received when he was booed every time he touched the ball in the corresponding clash in 2018 when he returned to the NRL.

De Belin had a run in his first set but missed a tackle minutes later when Albert Kelly stepped inside to prepare TC Robati for his second attempt.

He was out of play with 26 minutes remaining after making 61 yards out of his eight carries, but it was the things he was doing with his line speed and off-ball ball game that underscored his importance to the team.

De Belin showed in 26 minutes what the Dragons had missed in his absence, but it was Dufty’s performance that kept the Red V believers on their feet and asked management to sign him again.

The undocumented full-back is sensationally unwanted by the club beyond this season but showed why he’s considered one of the best offensive weapons in the open market on Thursday when he and Ben Hunt tore the Brisbane defense to shreds.

In his first game after a shoulder injury, the No. 1 shooter continued his offensive hot streak with five try-assists and two of his own against a team that could do with his service in 2022.

Dufty used his frantic speed To prepare Jack Bird, delivered a perfect pass to get Gerard Beale on his way, and then embarrassed Jamayne Isaako in the shadow of halftime when he caught the full-back taking a nap from Corey Norman.

He pulled out another peach of a passport to start Cody Ramsey – ???? the man who dropped a simple bomb and is supposed to replace him in the back next season – ???? and then supported a hunting break to crown the best game of his career.

They caused the excitement of the decade against the Roosters two weeks ago, but the Broncos are leaning in the wrong direction after another dire performance on the road.

Kelly was a rare highlight with three attempt assists in the first half, but he didn’t have many friends as they wasted an 18-12 lead to suffer another nasty defeat.

Robati spent 10 minutes in the can for a high shot, Kobe Hetherington hobbled off with an ankle injury, while Isaako had a night of mistakes and a missed challenge to forget before finally becoming addicted.


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