Relieved Broncos shift focus to Storm
The Broncos ticked another scalp off their finals list with a 30-22 victory over the Dragons on Friday night but according to veteran prop Ben Hannant the real test of Brisbane's top-eight credentials lies with next week's clash against the Storm.
Brisbane survived a second-half St George Illawarra comeback to keep their season alive and move back into the top eight, at least for the time being, at the expense of the Eels.
The Dragons' comeback was aided by the 54th-minute sin-binning of Matt Gillett, as they piled on two tries in the process courtesy of some Benji Marshall magic eventually bringing the score to 24-22 inside the final 15 minutes.
Gillett crossed for his second try of the night eight minutes from fulltime to put the game out of the Dragons' reach, much to the relief of the Suncorp Stadium crowd witnessing Brisbane's final home game of the season.
The nail-biting eight-point win wasn't Brisbane's best performance of the season in the eyes of Hannant, who identified some substandard play during key moments in the second stanza.
"That period 10 minutes after half-time we lost our way a bit and a few things didn't go our way and we didn't help ourselves as well, so that was disappointing, but we got the win and we're still alive so we can't complain," Hannant told NRL.com.
The 191-game veteran, who remains off contract at the end of the season with no news yet of a renewal, wants to see the Broncos make the finals having rightfully earned their spot, rather than sneaking in via other favourable results.
While a win over the Storm next Friday won't guarantee the Broncos a place in the finals at this stage, if the Knights defeat the Eels and Roosters account for the Storm this weekend the equation becomes much more favourable for Brisbane.
"If you're going to play finals, you don’t want to kid yourself and go in there coming seventh or eighth, you want to give the comp a good shake. So [the Storm] will be a good test for us and we'll see how we go," Hannant said, who has made the finals on six occasions during his 10 seasons of first grade.
Although the Broncos appear to be building momentum heading towards September, 29-year-old Hannant also highlighted the string of close games Brisbane have lost this year as their potential Achilles heel.
The Broncos have lost seven games by seven points or less and could have been sitting comfortably inside the top four had they won only two of those seven games, further identifying the topsy-turvy nature of season 2014.
"This year there's been six or seven games where we've lost by less than [seven] points. We've beaten a lot of teams around the eight and lost to a lot of teams that aren’t. We've put a lot of work in and I think every team deserves finals for the work you do as a footy player," he said.
"We'll go out [at AAMI Park] and do our best [against the Storm] and if we get there we get there, if we don’t, we don’t.
"It's all about us preparing right this week and making sure we're ready to go come Friday night.