BRISBANE underlined their premiership credentials with a comprehensive drubbing of Parramatta in front of a healthy, parochial and highly entertained crowd at Suncorp Stadium.
The Broncos, with Darren Lockyer in imperious form, ran in seven tries to two, their forwards laying a fine platform for their star-studded backline to tear the Eels to ribbons. On this form and fit, Brisbane are the best team in the comp.
Parra tried hard and weren’t disgraced, and can actually take something away from his outing – namely that rampant Brisbane at home weren’t able to put 60 on them and that with better execution they would have scored more points. But ultimately they fumbled their way out of this match and, one would suggest, season 2009.
The Game Swung When… After a first half in which Brisbane (16 points) took their chances and the Eels (0 points) did not, the visitors had to score first after the break. They did not. In the 47th minute Lockyer threw a perfectly timed inside ball for impressive prop Nick Kenny who plunged over next to the posts. 22-nil.
The Eels came back and reduced the margin to 14 points and some sensed a comeback in the winds. But it was all she wrote. The Eels’ second try was the cue for Brisbane to “unleash Hell”, and they ran at the Eels from multiple angles, at high speed, their great five-eighth providing more options than Kevin Rudd’s 2020 Summit.
Who Was Hot… Lockyer. Super call during the week that his Origin spot was “up for grabs”. The only question was whether he’d grab it with both hands or one, or balance it on his head like a seal. The Test five-eighth was in everything good about the Broncos this evening: he ran at the line, hit his runners in space, and rained pinpoint bombs down on the Eels that fell from the air like molten moon rock.
The rest of Brisbane’s star-studded backline benefited from the five-eighth’s play, with Karmichael Hunt (three tries, eight tackle breaks), Justin Hodges (a try, nine tackle breaks) and Israel Folau (a try, nine tackle breaks) terrorising the Eels’ back division. This could be – should be? – the Test backline.
The Broncos’ forwards were strong with Kenny (18 runs, 143 metres), Sam Thaiday (20 runs, 132 metres) and Corey Parker (42 tackles, six goals) laying the platform.
Not-so-bold prediction: if their forwards hold the ball, make metres, offload effectively and don’t miss tackles, and the backs stay fit through Origin, Brisbane will win the comp.
The Eels – who will not win the comp – were best served by Mateo (four offloads, four tackle breaks), Fuifui Moimoi (15 runs; 131 metres) and hooker Matthew Keating (38 tackles). As usual Nathan Hindmarsh (45 tackles) was his team’s beating heart. Still good enough to play rep footy, Hindmarsh, and probably would if playing in a better team. Like Brisbane, say. Or Melbourne. Or St George Illawarra. Or North Queensland. Or Canberra. Or…
Who Was Not… Parramatta missed 48 tackles (26 of them against Hunt, Hodges and Folau). With the ball they weren’t able to build enough repeat-set pressure to give players like the talented Feliti Meteo enough ball in the Broncos’ red zone.
Jarryd Hayne twice fumbled the ball across the line following bombs.
The Eels relied too heavily on the bomb as their weapon of choice. Running the ball on the fifth is not the biggest sin in the game. To wit…
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… In the 73rd minute, Lockyer ran on the fifth. He fired a beautiful ball to Hodges who tore downfield and was tackled but offloaded, finding Hunt who went over to complete a brilliant hat-trick of tries. And the big Suncorp crowd roared as one.
Three minutes later the Broncos won a scrum against the head (!) before Folau plunged over after some great work by Hunt.
Hunt’s second try was also a cracker, involving a dummy and one of those huge steps “Special K” has been known to rip off from time to time.
Also of merit is that the Broncos got 30,000 people to turn up to Suncorp for a game against a team that – by Round 7 – are looking to next year. When the Storm turn up they’ll near fill it. Love their footy in Brissie.
Otherwise, this was a game the neutral supporter just sat back and enjoyed. The talents of the champion Lockyer, the rampaging Hunt, the seemingly silent-but-deadly skills of Hodges, and the Meninga-like power of Folau, these four are any winger’s nightmare.
Bad Boys… Hindmarsh is on report for a feet-first sliding tackle which connected with Lockyer’s head. He makes nearly 50 tackles a game, Hindmarsh, over 1300 a season and a couple of them are going to go wrong. And he’s well known as a hard player but fair. But he’s still going to cop a week, after the match review committee charged him. You’re not allowed to tackle that way.
Refs Watch… Bernard Suttor and Jarred Maxwell sent a couple of calls upstairs to Russell Smith who probably got things right. Good, quiet games from officialdom.
NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – Darren Lockyer (Broncos): A masterclass from the game’s best five-eighth. Could – should – play until he’s 38; 2 points – Karmichael Hunt (Broncos): A hat-trick of tries and plenty of menace. Pushing Slater for the Test jumper; 1 point – Nick Kenny (Broncos): Plenty of punch up the middle of the park.
Broncos 40 (K Hunt 3, J Hodges, A Winterstein, N Kenny, I Folau tries; C Parker 6 goals) def Parramatta Eels 8 (E Uaisele, T Tautai tries) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 30,887.