Brisbane have defeated St George Illawarra 36-20 in Wollongong to inflict the Dragons’ first defeat of the NRL season.

Brisbane have handed St George Illawarra their first loss of the NRL season, a 36-20 defeat at WIN Stadium on Friday night.

A free-scoring Broncos were deserved winners against a Dragons side whose poor goal-line defence cost them dearly.

Close range tries to Sam Thaiday (19th minute) and Todd Lowrie (46th) from the first pass off the ruck badly exposed the Dragons and has left coach Steve Price with plenty to work on after a promising start to the year.

Matt Gillett scored an early double to put the visitors ahead 12-0 after just 11 minutes before Dragons winger Jason Nightingale spectacularly latched onto a Sam Williams kick before wrestling his way over in the 15th minute.

St George Illawarra were then embarrassed by Thaiday before another Brett Morris try – his sixth for the year – and the conversion from Widdop in the 28th minute cut Brisbane’s lead to 18-10.

Nightingale then grabbed his second four-pointer a minute after halftime for the try of the game when Dylan Farrell broke the Broncos’ defence and kicked for the Kiwi flyer to scoop the Steeden up and score.

The Dragons had done well to work their way back into the game before Lowrie then waltzed over.

Dale Copley then put the Broncos further ahead 30-16 in the 59th minute when Brisbane created numbers on their right-hand side.

Gerard Beale then brought the Dragons closer when he showed great toe to outsprint the Broncos defence in the 65th minute.

Ben Hunt sealed the win in the 72nd minute before 10,526 fans when Brisbane again created an overlap on their right and Corey Parker kept his perfect conversion record of the night intact with his sixth goal.

The win was the Broncos’ seventh straight against the joint venture.

Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin said he was delighted by the way his side responded to their first loss of the season last week to premiers the Sydney Roosters.

“To bounce back from the disappointment of last week was really pleasing,” he said.

“Emotionally we could have come down but we didn’t.

“When the Dragons got back to 18-16 with that try, we steadied things well.

Skipper Corey Parker said the Broncos had plenty to work with after a promising start to the year.

“We have got a lot to improve on but a 3-1 start to the season, we will take that,” he said.

Dragons coach Steve Price said his team did well to fight their way back into the contest but bemoaned their poor defence on their goal line.

“I thought we got back into the arm wrestle really well,” he said.

“We scored a tremendous try after half-time but couldn’t go on with it.”

Price said star fullback Josh Dugan would return for next week’s clash against South Sydney after sitting out the first four rounds with a knee injury.