Pain has made us stronger: Griffin
They're the losses that can define a season but Broncos coach Anthony Griffin believes the pain of heartbreaking defeats earlier in the year has shown his side what's required to challenge for a top four position.
With the club going through a tumultuous time off the field and constant debate surrounding the future of Griffin as Brisbane coach, Sunday's clash with the Sea Eagles was a game the Broncos perhaps weren't expected to win but needed to in order to dull the dissent of the doubters.
They jumped their opposition from the outset and then went on with the job, never allowing Manly into the contest in a 36-10 triumph in front of 32,017 sunshine-bathed fans at Suncorp Stadium that brought them level on 14 competition points along with five other teams.
Of the five losses the Broncos have suffered through 12 rounds four have been by margins of seven points or less and Griffin praised the character of his team to be able to come out the other side a more accomplished outfit and with their resolve strengthened.
"We were really hurt by the way we threw games away earlier in the year and we could have gone two ways," Griffin said post match. "We could have gone the other way and got a little bit frustrated by it but everyone's knuckled down, the whole group's playing with a bit of grit at the moment and we're getting away with some wins.
"There wasn't a lightning bolt and all of a sudden we changed direction – I think we've been working hard all year – the point I was making was that they were heart-breaking losses against good sides, Roosters and Souths and teams like that. But we just kept our head down and kept learning and kept working together.
"It wasn't that there was a real defining moment, we've just had a lot of opportunities to keep learning and we've done that. But it's Round 12 and it's a marathon but at the moment we're getting it done the tough way."
Co-captain Corey Parker watched his side's win over the Wests Tigers from the plush confines of Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast in camp with the Maroons and said he was heartened by the way the 'baby Broncos' ground out a tough win.
"It's always nice if you're away on Origin duty and you see your team put in a performance, in particular defensively, the way they did last week," Parker said.
"It was really important that we improved on that and took some positives out of it, which we did and then prepared for this week.
"You look back at the Roosters [game], we were in a position of being eight points up with five to go so that was tough but anytime you lose and you've done enough to win is obviously pretty hard. There's been a lot of hard work put in since then."
While Justin Hodges was rested by the Brisbane coaching staff, Parker and Matt Gillett were outstanding in backing up after one of the most brutal Origin matches ever played on Wednesday night.
Parker ran for 127 metres, made 22 tackles and created havoc with his offloads in the middle third of the field while Gillett's 190m was boosted by a 95m solo try in the 73rd minute, an effort that ordinarily would have earned him an early mark.
"We had to get Andrew McCullough off," said Griffin on his hooker who was taken from the field as a precaution for a potential groin strain. "I wanted to get [Gillett] off before that but luckily I didn't because he got to run 100 metres and score. We swapped him over to left centre just for the last seven or eight minutes to try and freshen him up.
"I thought Corey and Matt Gillett today, the way they backed up was above expectation. They really put themselves out there for the team and that was a big part of the way we played."
Although unsure of the extent of McCullough's injury, Griffin is confident he will be available to face Canberra in the nation's capital next Monday.
"The medical people say it's nothing major but by that stage and with the game in our keeping it was probably more important that we got him off then," he said.
"At the moment I don't think [it is serious]. That's what I've been told after the game. It was more a precautionary thing. He could feel it tightening up and if we left him out there there was a danger of him doing more damage."