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Broncos' Barba switch to stay

Broncos' Barba switch to stay
Josh Hoffman made a successful return to the fullback position, running for 116m and coming up with a try-saving tackle on Sam Tomkins in the Broncos' 28-22 victory. Credit: Col Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos
Broncos coach Anthony Griffin will persist with the positional switch of Ben Barba and Josh Hoffman after a resilient Brisbane team earned their first win in a month with a 28-22 victory over the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium. 

Usually a man who keeps his cards close to his chest, the under-siege Broncos' coach made three surprising team changes on match eve with Jack Reed, Daniel Vidot and Corey Oates demoted back to the Intrust Super Cup after the trio spent too much time enjoying a mid-week booze session in honour of Reed's birthday.

The Broncos' boss wasn't done tinkering with his team sheet there; prior to kick-off he swapped his fullback and five-eighth around in order to trial a highly anticipated and long awaited move by placing Ben Barba at pivot and Josh Hoffman back into his preferred custodian role.

"I had a chat to both of them at the start of the week. Obviously that [fullback/five-eighth] area has been patchy for us and we decided we'd have a look at it the other way tonight," Griffin said.

After viewing Saturday night's switch against the Warriors, Griffin still sees the Barba/Hoffman role reversal as a work in progress but suggested that he is likely to stick with the same plan heading into next Friday's match against the Storm.

"We'll keep working at that. We'll review that game – I thought they both started a little slow but once they got into the game they found their feet a little bit," he said.

"[They'll] probably [play there next week] at the moment, if I had to give you an answer."

The switch of Barba and Hoffman paid dividends against the Warriors with both players heavily involved for contrasting reasons. Barba managed to find his hands on the Steeden more often and looked dangerous when doing so, while Hoffman produced a series of crucial goal-line tackles including a desperate try-saving tackle on Sam Tomkins 26 minutes into the first half as his side trailed 12-6.

While experienced campaigners Barba and Hoffman showed promise during their positional changes, the three enforced changes on match eve saw youngsters Lachlan Maranta and Jordan Kahu come onto the wings with Dale Copley shifting from right wing to left centre.

Although the Warriors did target the Broncos' inexperienced left-edge, all three players produced terrific displays with Copley scoring two second-half tries to go along with his four line breaks and 209 metres, Maranta was continually safe under the high-ball despite being constantly examined by Manu Vatuvei and Kahu scored a try in his first NRL match of the season.

Griffin wouldn't confirm whether he'd stick with the same makeshift backline for next week's Storm clash or reinstate members of the sacked trio, stating that he'd have to review the form of the three players sent back to the Intrust Super Cup before making a decision.

"We made some changes and we were up front about that. We weren't trying to hide anything and no matter who was in the team tonight, if we don't have a committed team we don't get through that [match] tonight no matter whether we made changes or not," he said.

"The Broncos tonight, with the people we had out there, were committed and we got the job done."

Warriors' coach Andrew McFadden was also complimentary to the way the Broncos held out for their crucial six-point win despite having a perceived lack of troops.

"They needed to win tonight the Broncos – as did we I suppose – but they were clearly very desperate and sometimes those sorts of things can really drive a team, that siege mentality," McFadden said.

"They were really good tonight, the Broncos, they fought every step of the way [and] we didn't take our opportunities.

"We thought there might be a few [team] changes. We saw the adjustments they made against Penrith in the last 20 minutes last week with Hodges getting more involved so we thought there might be something there but we still had to focus on our performance and we weren't good enough tonight."
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