Broncos stampede over Sea Eagles
A 15-minute opening blitz by a rampaging and ruthless Broncos side has propelled them to a convincing 36-10 victory over the Sea Eagles in front of over 32,000 fans who came out in force to enjoy a rare Sunday fixture in Brisbane.
Racing out to a 14-0 lead after as many minutes, the Broncos rarely looked like being overhauled by Manly as doubles to Dale Copley and Jack Reed rounded off a rare 80-minute performance by the home side. The 26-point loss also marked the first occasion the Sea Eagles had lost by more than 20 points since the 2012 Preliminary Final against the Storm.
The rare daytime game at Suncorp Stadium provided a welcome change for Broncos fans that have become accustomed to attending a plethora of Friday night fixtures throughout the season. The Round 12 clash also marked the 100th NRL games for Brisbane's Josh McGuire and Josh Hoffman and the much anticipated return from injury for Sam Thaiday, who had been out of action with a calf complaint since Round 6.
McGuire marked his milestone with an eye-catching 127 metres and 26 tackles, while Ben Hunt steered Brisbane around the park with the type of maturity and composure you'd except from a player touted as a possible Queensland Origin candidate.
The win sees the Broncos move to fifth place on 14 points in a logjam with five other teams and will be hoping to make the most of their remaining fixtures over the Origin period where they will receive two byes and play the Raiders, Warriors and the Sharks in the next five weeks – all teams that are currently outside the top-eight.
The Broncos received the best possible start to the match with a try to Lachlan Maranta after three minutes. The home side were put into an enticing attacking position off the back of a penalty and from the resulting set the Brisbane backline kicked into gear.
The Steeden went through five sets of hands before the ball bobbled out the back of the ruck to Maranta, who appeared to propel the ball slightly forward upon collection, however there was insufficient evidence to overrule the incident as the Broncos' winger leapt over a pile of bodies to plant the ball over the line.
Corey Parker missed the conversion from the sideline to keep the score at 4-0. From the very next set the Broncos stampeded up the centre to find themselves 20 metres from the line on the last. Ben Barba ended up with the ball in his hands and perfectly placed a cross-field bomb in the direction of Jack Reed and Daniel Vidot, with the latter flying high and seemingly grounding the ball for a try.
On video referee review, the ball had actually come loose from Vidot but was knocked backwards, with teammate Alex Glenn nonchalantly placing downward pressure on the ball to claim the try. Parker added the extras to take the score to 10-0 in the 10th minute.
Brisbane were enjoying 68 per cent of possession in the opening 13 minutes and that soon led to another four-pointer courtesy of a Manly mistake 40 metres out from the line. Deciding to run the ball on the last tackle, Broncos halfback Ben Hunt showed great poise and vision to pick out an onrushing Reed who dashed over to score in the corner. Parker's sideline effort was well off target, keeping the score at 14-0.
The Sea Eagles appeared to cross for their opening try after 24 minutes through Steve Matai; however it was disallowed due to an obstruction call that featured Justin Horo taking out Ben Hunt in the defensive line, keeping the scoreboard untouched.
Brisbane stretched their lead to 20-0 in the 28th minute after receiving a piggy-back penalty thanks to a high tackle by Jason King on Alex Glenn. The resulting set allowed Hoffman to demonstrate his seldom-seen kicking ability by rolling a grubber behind Manly's line with Jack Reed receiving a perfect bounce to collect the ball and weave his way towards the posts to allow Hunt an easy conversion.
The Silvertails struck back in the 33rd minute when Kieran Foran slipped his way through Brisbane's defensive line from close range. Jamie Lyon missed the conversion to keep the score at 20-4, but the Sea Eagles soon found themselves on the attack again after the Broncos spilt the ball on the halfway line.
The visitors went agonisingly close to crossing for their second try from the resulting set when Jack Littlejohn was held up over the line, however they kicked away possession allowing Brisbane a seven-tackle set, which they failed to take advantage of on the stroke of half-time.
Leading 20-4 at the break, the Broncos extended their advantage seven minutes into the half after receiving an extra set due to a deflected kick bouncing back into the path of Brisbane. Sensing the Sea Eagles were short of numbers on their left side, Barba threw a pass out to a rampaging Ben Hannant, who looked like pinning the ears back and heading for the try-line himself. Instead, the Broncos' prop popped a basketball-style pass out to Copley, who awkwardly – but eventually – found the line. Hunt's attempt at adding the extras was waved away, keeping Brisbane's advantage to 20 points.
Brisbane had Manly on the ropes with a constant barrage of attacking forays and the visitors soon cracked again with 15 minutes to go. Short of numbers on their left edge again, the ball was spun out to Copley, who stepped off his right foot to create space for himself, leaving the Broncos' centre little left to do other than dive over for Brisbane's sixth try of the afternoon. Skipper Corey Parker slotted the extras to take the score out to 30-4.
Manly managed to cross for their second try four minutes later when Littlejohn sent Jamie Buhrer over the line from close range. Jamie Lyon took little time to convert the try as Manly looked to mount an unlikely comeback at 30-10 with nine minutes remaining.
Just as the Sea Eagles looked like crossing again, a Steve Matai mistake saw Matt Gillett scoop up the loose ball and race 95 metres down the sideline to put the game completely beyond doubt. Hunt struck the conversion perfectly to hand the Broncos a 36-10 lead.
The Broncos went on the hunt for an eighth try, but Manly's line held strong to keep the scoreboard at 36-10 at fulltime.
Brisbane Broncos 36 (Jack Reed 2, Dale Copley 2, Lachlan Maranta, Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, tries; Ben Hunt 2, Corey Parker 2 goals) def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 10 (Kieran Foran, Jamie Buhrer, tries; Jamie Lyon 1 goal) at Suncorp Stadium. Half-time: Broncos 20-4. Crowd: 32,017.