Mixed emotions for beaten Broncos
Pride and disappointment are two words not commonly associated with each other, but those were the sentiments echoed by both captain and coach after the Broncos heartbreaking last-minute loss to the Roosters last night.
For 75 minutes, a Ben Hunt-inspired Broncos outfit seemed destined to keep their unbeaten start to the season intact, only to have the Roosters snatch victory from their fingertips with two tries inside the last five minutes.
When Hunt crossed for his second try in the 73rd minute, the Broncos looked on course to grasp their third upset victory in a row, as they enjoyed an eight-point buffer with the clock counting down.
From that point onwards there's an argument to be had that either the Roosters got out of jail or the Broncos threw it away, but there's no denying that the defending premiers are the benchmark for other teams to aspire to.
On a night of high emotion following the retirement of 24-year-old winger Jharal Yow Yeh, both Broncos coach Anthony Griffin and his captain Corey Parker conveyed feelings of pride and disappointment that emerged from the 30-26 defeat.
"It was disappointing. They were just too good in that last five minutes – we've got to be better defensively obviously," Griffin said.
"At eight points up with five to go I still knew there was a long way to go.
"I thought we gave our all and couldn't be faulted, but we've still got a lot of development to do in some of the finer parts of our game.
"Tonight we finished with a bad taste in our mouth but we were better again than last week. Unfortunately we've come up against a much better team tonight and that's why they're premiers."
Corey Parker's views were similar to that of his coach, also stressing that his side are still a work in progress.
"They're too good of a side to shut-up shop with five to go. It only takes a bit of a momentum swing and you're on the back foot," Parker said.
"We worked hard, but unfortunately we fell short in a few areas and they were good enough to capitalise.
"We're a work in progress – week to week for us is a new challenge and tonight was a big challenge coming up against the Roosters.
"I thought everyone who contributed tonight did really well. As 'Hook' (Griffin) said there's a few finer points we need to execute better, but effort-wise it was tip-top."
Ben Hunt's double along with two try assists was the main highlight for the Broncos, however Griffin stressed that despite Hunt's heroics, the whole team could be proud of their effort.
"He's getting better and better every week, [but] I was happy with the whole 17 – the effort level and everyone's intentions and where we are going – it's very positive," he said.
"He's a good player. That's what we're wanting him to do and get to the point where against the premiers he can have a game like that – he's always had that potential.
"The key for Ben is to keep working and become consistent week in, week out against that type of opposition."