Staggs return sparks Brisbane to NRL upset

·3-min read

Kevin Walters can sight "clear waters" after Kotoni Staggs' return for the beleaguered Brisbane sparked a 26-18 win over Cronulla.

Staggs transformed the Broncos' right edge, where they peppered the Sharks all afternoon at Suncorp Stadium in a rare NRL arm-wrestle that fell the host's way.

Last year's Dally M centre of the year had been missing all year because of injury and suspension and it was felt hard by last season's wooden spooners, who have taken 16 weeks to win four games.

But his comeback gave Broncos fans hope as he linked with impressive fullback Tesi Nui and emerging backrower TC Robati for their best win under Kevin Walters to drag them off the bottom of the ladder.

Five-eighth Tyson Gamble had a presence while hooker Jake Turpin ran the ball out of dummy-half to provide another attacking option and Payne Haas was monstrous to snap a four-game Sharks winning streak.

Walters beamed about the second efforts and acts of desperation, even if he couldn't explain why those acts had been few and far between earlier in the season.

The win comes hot on the heals of new football boss Ben Ikin's arrival, who Walters said can now take responsibility for roster management issues that have plagued his first season in charge.

"It has been a lot going on but we're in clear water now, can all move forward and do our jobs," he said.

"Every bit of our game improved, not where we need to be, but some really big improvements."

Cronulla lost half Matt Moylan (calf) before the game and were then denied the opening try in bizarre circumstances.

Sione Katoa's final pass to Jesse Ramien was obviously forward, but the try was only disallowed on review because of a knock-on when Katoa marginally lost control of the ball as he made the pass.

The teams traded tries in an 18-all first half, Ronaldo Mulitalo throwing a brilliant no-look pass for Connor Tracey in his first game since being sensationally denied a State of Origin debut.

Brisbane began the second half well, peppering the line before Haas's short ball close to the line put Ethan Bullemor over.

With Staggs benched after his predetermined 50-minute stint, Cronulla took the ball 80 metres to score from the next set, Connor Tracey bagging a second to level the scores.

But the Broncos enjoyed a 12-point swing of their own, Gamble's emphatic tackle busting the ball loose as Ramien headed for the line before Nui ran 90m to score from the scrum.

Staggs' replacement Jesse Arthars then scrambled over to create an eight-point buffer with 13 minutes to play before Haas scrambled 80 metres to swat a loose ball away and deny another try on the bell.

"I wouldn't say it was the one that got away ... I thought all day they were a little bit better than us," Cronulla coach Josh Hannay said.

"We've lost to the two bottom teams (Canterbury and Brisbane) ... we need to make that one up now."

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