Brisbane and Canberra played out an entertaining game of footy on a balmy evening at Suncorp Stadium, with the Broncos emerging deserved victors.
The visitors lost no fans, and with an enthusiastic and young bunch of players, one can expect them to be a force in Season 2010. (Though two wins from 12 games on the road is a hoodoo that might only be exorcised by voodoo.)
The home team though were ultimately the better team and can go into the finals on the crest of a small but surging wave. Barring injury they'll trouble anyone in this Telstra Premiership – particularly if Israel Folau wakes up from his lumbering slumber.
The Game Swung When… In the 51st minute Sam Thaiday scored a neat try following some nice work from Darren Lockyer and Lagi Setu. Parker failed to convert and it was 12-6 Broncos.
Six minutes later Jharal Yow Yeh (who must surely have the most exotic name in the NRL outside messrs Moimoi and Learoyd-Lahrs) scored a fine try after some great work by Parker, Peter Wallace and Justin Hodges. Parker missed the difficult conversion and the margin was 10. And in the context of a tight football game, it should have been plenty.
And so it proved to be. In the 65th minute Parker reached over for his second try. When he nailed the goal these re-born Broncos looked home.
With 12 minutes to go Josh McCrone ran 60 metres to score his second try and the Green Machine had a little sniff.
But a small inhalation it remained, and the Broncos cemented sixth spot in a canter.
Who Was Hot… Karmichael Hunt ran hard and with nice evasion, while the electric Yow-Yeh and the nifty stepping Antonio Winterstein had lots to do and did it well. Handy pair, these flank riders.
Dave Taylor was scary big and scary good, Peter Wallace did a lot of little things well, while Tonie Carroll made some telling tackles.
The Raiders were best served by their excellent fullback, Josh Dugan (18 runs, 218 metres and 10 tackle breaks). There's not a whole lot of the kid but he runs hard and with nice evasion, and breaks tackles often as not. Impressive play from a fullback with a bit of Brett Mullins and Gary Belcher about him. And his tackle on Dave Taylor had to be seen to be believed...
Bronson Harrison showed some nice hands in attack, Josh Miller made 37 tackles and David Shillington ran 18 times for 143m.
Who Was Not... The Raiders’ work under the high ball was pretty poor, they let the ball bounce and almost gave up a try as the siren rang for half-time when no player attempted to catch a Justin Hodges speculator.
Later Peter Wallace sliced a drop-out that only travelled 30 metres, the Green Machine lucky to get away with the ball after Darren Lockyer nearly took the ball from the hesitant Raiders’ catchers. The Aussie slip cordon this was not.
Also, the Raiders were tackled back into their in-goal three times in the second half after having the ball in play. Body height, boys. Body height.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… Dugan did unbelievably well to stop Taylor from scoring in the corner after the giant bull elephant Bronco had stormed down the left wing. The big unit was at full flight but somehow Dugan got his shoulder and body in the way of the rampaging prop and just nudged him into touch in-goal. It was car accident stuff. My, but that would have hurt.
Later Dugan saw Taylor coming again, after the giant human had chip-kicked and charged. The ball landed in the middle of them and somehow Dugan came up with it. Scary stuff, and Dugan's mum would have had some nervous moments.
Bad Boys… None.
Refs Watch… Video ref Paul Simpkins ruled No Try on the Raiders' first attempt at one, correctly adjudicating on the fact that while three Raiders players had had a lash at it, Joe Picker had knocked it on.
Later Taylor dropped the ball in the tackle, Tongue picked it up and flung it wide but the movement broke down out wide and the Broncos regained possession. But question marks linger over whether the Raiders had any advantage. Some – and Alan Tongue was one of them – would say they did not.
Terry Campese was penalised twice for holding players down, but should have gone to the Sin Bin for repeatedly doing it. Took the proverbial, did Campo.
NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – Josh Dugan (Raiders): Ran with great penetration to beat 10 tackles, and showed great courage in defence; 2 points – Dave Taylor (Broncos): Barnstorming game from a scary-big unit; 1 point – Peter Wallace (Broncos): Had a hand in a couple of Broncos tries and kept the Raiders pinned down with grubbers.
Broncos 22 (C Parker 2, S Thaiday, J Yow Yeh tries; C Parker 3 goals) def Raiders 10 (J McCrone 2 tries; T Campese goal) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 35,112.