Hunt burns the Broncos with inside knowledge

Ben Hunt admits he knew what was coming from his old club when he scored a match-turning intercept try in the Dragons' first-up win.

The Red V recruit breathed hope back into long-suffering St George Illawarra fans and rammed home Matt Lodge's tough NRL return with one foul swoop as he set up a 34-12 win over Brisbane on Thursday night.

Lodge endured an up-and-down night in the Broncos' loss, the prop's first game back since having sat out more than two years since his infamous New York rampage that landed him in Rikers Island jail.

The subject of intense scrutiny for the past month, Lodge topped the running metres for the Broncos, but dropped a simple ball early, gave away a penalty for a high shot on James Graham and threw the pass that Hunt picked off and ran 50 metres to score.

What a debut in the Red V. Image: Getty

Lodge's return overshadowed much of the lead-in to the season-opener, given he still owes $1.6 million in damages to his victims of the 2015 incident, for which he pled guilty to a misdemeanour reckless assault charge.

His intercept pass rightly handed the spotlight back to the man who Thursday's season-opener should have always been centred around in Hunt.

The former Broncos half set up the opening try against his old club, before he admitted he recognised Brisbane's play and ran 50 metres to score the match-sealing try just as they threatened to mount a second-half comeback.

"I knew the play they were running," Hunt said.

"I actually went up to jam on Milf (Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford) and got there a bit early so had a crack at the ball.

"It was pretty exciting, it's always exciting when you score a try, but to get your first one for the new team felt pretty nice."

The Dragons' all-important spine was also much better for Hunt's arrival.

Gareth Widdop looked dangerous running the ball in attack, freed up from the burden of having to organise the team alongside makeshift halfbacks since his arrival from Melbourne in 2014.

He struck up a nice combination with young fullback Matt Dufty, who was as quick as ever through the midfield and on kick returns.

Hooker Cameron McInees even looked as if he'd improved on his career-best 2017. He ran freely from dummy-half in the first half to finish with 48 metres from his five up-tempo carries.

Jack de Belin, Jason Nightingale and Euan Aitken each also finished with tries for the Dragons in their 50th win at Kogarah as a merged club.

with AAP