The Broncos ran over a brave though ultimately out-gunned New Zealand Warriors on a fine Friday evening at Suncorp Stadium.
The Warriors had their chances and led for a fair part of this game. But there was inevitability about this result. Once the Broncos secured a decent share of possession, their star players combined with their lesser lights and did enough to secure the two premiership points. A pretty good game of footy.
The Broncos haven’t firmed back into premiership contention – it was the first match for a while they weren’t lapped – but they’ll have done their confidence no harm dusting a side who gave them some curry.
The Warriors were not disgraced… but should begin planning for 2010.
The Game Swung When… In the 36th minute with the Warriors up 8-0 and protecting their lead, back-rower Ben Matulino carted the ball up but lost it in the tackle. On-the-spot five-eighth Darren Lockyer scrambled for the ball then passed to Justin Hodges who passed to Israel Folau who ran over untouched in the corner. The ruling went upstairs where “Try” was ruled – and there could not be too many arguments.
Ten minutes later a great try by Brisbane: Lockyer fed a beautiful flat ball for Sam Thaiday who crashed into the defence and fed fullback Josh Hoffman who did well to stretch over and score.
In the 68th minute with his team 30 metres out and down by six points, Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon put through a flat, fifth-tackle kick that went deader than fried chicken. This was not a good option.
And that was the game.
Who Was Hot… Broncos replacement forward Dave Taylor – who can apparently inhale spaghetti like a human Hoover – had a massive game and was easily the best forward on the paddock. Even though he’s signed with South Sydney, Ivan Henjak and company should pick him given they’re looking to win this year’s premiership.
Elsewhere, Lockyer was typically skilful, Thaiday showed some very classy touches – has a lot of game, S. Thaiday – while rookie fullback Josh Hoffman showed off nice footwork at the back. Hodges also laid on some nice touches in his first game back from injury. He might run like a crab but he’s got more steps than the Empire State Building.
And Corey Parker (18 runs, 143 metres) was again one of the Broncos’ leading contributors. Having a fine season, C. Parker.
The Warriors were best served by two-try skipper Steve Price (23 runs for a whopping 221 metres), hooker/fullback/five-eighth Lance Hohaia and workaholic back-rower Simon Mannering (16 runs, 131 metres).
Who Was Not… Broncos prop Taylor exploited the Warriors porous right-side defence with a series of big charges, a couple of which led to tries. He was big and ugly, sure, but the Warriors’ defence looked like Jersey Fleggers playing Queensland.
In the 27th minute Warriors back-rower “Captain” Mannering made a fine bust through the Broncos’ right-side defence. He carried the ball up and with the fullback to draw sent a pass into touch. His team were up 8-0 at the time and six more points would have made the Broncos agree: that it was a few.
Brisbane half Wallace’s only option with his team 15 metres out on the last few tackles seems to be the kick. He doesn’t run, he doesn’t pass, at least not when he’s threatening the advantage line. And other teams know this. There’s not enough variety in his options. What he does he does well… but there’s not enough X-Factor.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… Tonie “Tunsa” Carroll made a return for Brisbane looking like he’d eaten several sheep. Good to see him back.
Folau walked off assisted by two Broncos trainers even though his ankle appeared to fold in half like a broken pocket-knife. Get well soon, big fellah.
Stephen Price (a prop) ran through on a Stacey Jones bomb and leapt above rookie fullback Hoffman to catch the ball and plunge over the line for his second try. Great stuff: front-rowers have never before done these things. Ever.
Thaiday threw a fabulous, Jordan-esque left-handed no-look pass in the tackle that he actually dummied first (this holding the ball in one hand) before finding supports out wide who scored. Fabulous footy from Slammin’.
Michael Luck smashed Broncos fullback Hoffman but the kid hung tough under the bomb – fair play, he can hit M. Luck, and the rookie stood strong.
And then with eight minutes to go, Joel Clinton and Jerome Ropati ran into each other at such high speed that Clinton went off with a bigger headache than Iraq. It was a car crash.
Bad Boys… None.
Injuries… Folau is gone eight weeks with fractured ankle. Clinton is expected to be fit for the Broncos’ next game in Round 19 after their bye.
Refs Watch… In the 70th minute the Broncos put a chip kick through but Wallace was taken out by Jacob Lillyman, who didn’t move out of Wallace’s way but made the mistake of bracing himself for the collision and looking like he put a shoulder into the chaser. A touch judge came on and said it was not fair, and this with Wallace in front of the kicker. Funny game, rugby league.
NRL.com Best & Fairest…
3 points – Dave Taylor (Broncos): Ran through the Warriors like a bowling ball through pins; 2 points – Sam Thaiday (Broncos): Plenty of fine touches from a ball-playing wrecking ball; 1 point – Steve Price (Warriors): Two fine tries and plenty of starch in the middle from the Warriors’ beating heart.
Broncos 28 (I Folau, J Hoffman, L Setu, A Winterstein, S Michaels tries; P Wallace 4 goals) def Warriors 14 (S Price 2 tries; K Locke 3 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 32,456.