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Broncos pip Sharks to move into NRLW top four

Scott Radford-Chisholm/AAP PHOTOS

Brisbane have entered the NRLW top four for the first time this year with a thrilling 32-28 win over Cronulla at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.

The race for the finals took further shape on Saturday, with the Broncos on a roll and Newcastle all but locking up their spot with a 20-12 win over Canberra.

The Raiders are now fifth, outside the finals-paying top-four positions on for-and-against but their poor points differential could mean they need to win their last two games to qualify.

St George Illawarra gave themselves a sliver of hope of reaching the finals with a 48-16 flogging of North Queensland to move up to sixth. They too will likely need to win their final two matches.

But the story of the day was the Broncos, who have recovered from a 0-2 start to the season to sit at 4-3.

Captain Ali Brigginshaw backed up at halfback after badly breaking her nose last week in the win over Canberra but it was her halves partner Gayle Broughton who was the star with a try double and a slick game in general play.

Brigginshaw set up flying fullback Hayley Maddick for the opening try before Sharks prop Ellie Johnston crashed over from close range and fullback Jada Taylor sliced through to extend the visitors' lead to 10-4.

Star Cronulla No.6 Emma Tonegato went for a head injury assessment with blood streaming from her nose after an accidental head clash with teammate Tiana Penitani.

Brisbane scored three tries in the space of eight minutes either side of halftime through prop Annetta Nu'uausala, Broughton and winger Julia Robinson.

When the Broncos took a 32-16 lead through Destiny Brill and another Broughton try it appeared the match was sealed.

Two tries in as many minutes to Sharks winger Georgia Ravics and Tonegato with a sensational long-range effort set up a nailbiting finish but Brisbane hung on.

Newcastle halfback Jesse Southwell inspired her side to a 20-12 come-from-behind win over Canberra after the Knights trailed 10-0 at halftime.

But when Newcastle fullback Tamika Upton, arguably the form player in the league, began to take the contest on in the second half the script flipped dramatically.

Five-eighth Georgia Roche spun out of the goal-line defence before Southwell had a hand in the two tries that confirmed all momentum for the visitors.

Compounding the Raiders' woes, inspirational co-captain Simaima Taufa appeared to re-injure her right shoulder attempting a tackle in the second half at GIO Stadium.

Canberra cannot afford to lose middle forward Taufa as they fight to overcome their inferior points differential and lock up a finals berth in their inaugural season.

The Dragons rarely looked challenged as they recorded their third win of the season to end the Cowboys' faint finals hopes.

Teagan Berry again starred, with a break in the lead up to the Dragons' first try, providing the final pass for another and scoring a four-pointer of her own late.

Angelina Teakaraanga-Katoa was immense up front for the Red V, while captain Raecene McGregor set up two tries.


Newcastle - 12

Sydney Roosters - 10*

Brisbane - 8

Gold Coast - 8*

Canberra - 8

St George Illawarra - 6

Cronulla - 4

Wests Tigers - 4*

North Queensland - 4

Parramatta - 2*

(* Game in hand)