The Broncos kept their slim finals hopes alive with a 28-6 win over Bulldogs at Lang Park in Brisbane, as Belinda Sharpe created history as the first woman to referee an NRL match.
- The Broncos are only a point outside the top eight following the win, with round 18 still to be completed
- Belinda Sharpe became the first woman to referee a professional top-grade match in rugby league’s 111-year history
- The Bulldogs have a 5-12 win-loss record to be sitting 15th on the ladder
Tevita Pangai Junior, David Fifita and Payne Haas all played key roles in the victory, which lifted the Broncos to just one point off eighth-placed Penrith.
Kotoni Staggs and Corey Oates grabbed a double each for the hosts with Jamayne Isaako also scoring, while Bulldogs’ five-eighth Brandon Wakeham’s first NRL try was the only consolation for the visitors.
Sharpe became the first female referee in 111 years of professional rugby league.
She has been an NRL touch judge since 2014 and served in the same role at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, in addition to refereeing women’s State of Origin and men’s Queensland Cup.
The Queenslander was awarded a full-time refereeing contract in May alongside another female referee, Kasey Badger.
Haas, the New South Wales State of Origin representative, was a bullocking force in the first half, picking up 108 run metres by the break and making 15 tackles.
The 19-year-old finished the match with 204 running metres and 36 tackles.
Pangai Junior, whose offload in the first half lead to a try to Isaako, finished the match with a try assist and 16 tackles while Fifita was huge off the interchange bench, worrying the Bulldogs’ defensive line with several strong runs.
Staggs also had a fine match, adding five tackle busts to his two tries, as the Broncos ensured hooker Andrew McCullough celebrated his 250th NRL appearance with a victory.
McCullough iced the win with the first conversion of his NRL career from dead in front after Oates’s penalty try.
The Bulldogs played two-thirds of the match without centre Marcelo Montoya after he injured his left knee in a collision with Broncos full-back Anthony Milford.
Montoya attempted to play on after getting the knee strapped but barely hobbled 10 metres before being assisted off the field by two trainers with a medial ligament injury.
Brisbane makes the short trip to Gold Coast next week to take on the bottom-placed Titans, who sacked coach Garth Brennan last Sunday in the wake of their 12th loss of the season.
The Bulldogs tackle the Roosters at Sydney’s Olympic stadium.