It was a moment to forget for the fullback but a strong win for the Dragons, who were under pressure to perform after being winless from their opening two games and coach Paul McGregor being forced to defend his new spine.
But Norman, Ben Hunt, Cameron McInnes and Widdop were all excellent against the Broncos, who were their own worst enemy at times with poor handling but were almost able to steal the points.
The Dragons had five line breaks to Brisbane’s nil at half-time yet somehow found themselves down 12-10 on the scoreboard. If they were the side that applied most of the pressure, then Brisbane were the team that cashed in when opportunity arose.
St George Illawarra were spirited and energetic from the outset, prepared to take Brisbane on at their own high-tempo game. And after creating a minor stir during the week when he suggested Brisbane’s halves tended to crack under pressure, centre Euan Aitken was influential from the start.
He carved his way through the Brisbane defence in the opening minutes and was into the clear, galloping 50m down the edge before his desperate offload found the sideline instead of support players.
Still, it was exactly what McGregor would have wanted to see and the Dragons didn’t have to wait long to get on the scoreboard. McInnes scampered clear from dummy-half, then sold a dummy to Darius Boyd and it was 6-0.
Jordan Pereira made it 10-0 five minutes later when he dived over in the corner. Early momentum suggested the Dragons’ hefty finals win here in September wasn’t a one-off event.
Brisbane needed something to get them into the contest and looked a touch fortunate when Corey Oates raced over untouched after a lost ball from Mikaele Ravalawa. It was sent up as a no try, with the suggestion that Jack Bird had knocked it loose in the three-man tackle.
But the green light was given and Brisbane were on their way. And just before the break, James Roberts produced an instant classic to pierce some Dragon hearts when he plucked Widdop’s kick out of mid-air and sprinted 90m to collapse over the line.
Whatever momentum Brisbane had going into the break remained in the sheds. They could barely complete a set when they returned and the Dragons were good enough to make them pay, with Ravalawa advancing the score to 16-12, then a Widdop penalty took the advantage to six.
Alex Glenn returned fire as the teams traded tries, before Korbin Sims smashed his way through the Brisbane try-line defence to triumphantly power over against his former club and plant it next to the sticks.
Isaako missed what he should have made up the other end, when he dropped one cold with the line begging. Anthony Milford had served it up on a silver platter and the winger was furious when he failed to complete the transaction.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 25 (C McInnes J Pereira M Ravalawa K Sims tries G Widdop 4 goals C Norman field goal) bt BRISBANE 24 (J Bird A Glenn C Oates J Roberts tries J Isaako 4 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referees: Ben Cummins, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski. Crowd: 21,081.