Broncos set up Bulldogs showdown

The Brisbane Broncos snapped their finals drought with a convincing 50-6 hammering of the Andrew Johns led Newcastle Knights to set up a showdown with the Canterbury Bulldogs next Friday for a place in Australia’s National Rugby League Grand Final.

    The Broncos pulverised the injury plagued Knights with an eight try display to record their first finals victory since 2002.

    The Brisbane side will now face the Bulldogs who enjoyed a week’s rest after qualifying for the semifinals with their first week victory.

    Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes will be hoping to include enforcers Reni Maitua and Roy Asotasi in his side after being encouraged by their progress in recovering from their respective injuries.

    The other Grand Final place will go to the winner of the Melbourne Storm and St George Illawarra semi final in a rematch of the 1999 Grand Final.

    The Dragons, without a title since 1979, advanced to the final four with a five tries to nil mauling of a hapless Manly Sea Eagles side.

    The Broncos were also never in trouble against Newcastle, who were without suspended influential hooker Danny Buderus and injured secondrower Steve Simpson, and the Broncos were coasting along with a 50-0 lead after 58 minutes.
    The Knights avoided the ignominy of the greatest loss in finals history thanks to a Kurt Gidley try with just two minutes left.
    Newcastle skipper Andrew Johns admitted his side sorely missed Test duo Danny Buderus and Steve Simpson (shoulder injury), but said Newcastle were "out-gunned" by a rampant Broncos.
    The loss brought an end to the Knights' season and the reign of Coach Michael Hagan at Newcastle ahead of his move to Parramatta next season, while long-serving centre Matt Gidley also farewelled the red and blue.
    But after announcing his retirement from representative football earlier this season, champion Knights scrum-half Johns was quick to put to bed any thoughts he may be considering giving football away  altogether during the off-season.
    "I'll be here next year," Johns said.



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