Broncos beat Sharks in scrappy affair
Brisbane Broncos defeated Cronulla Sharks 10-2 at Remondis Stadium in an uninspiring battle of two teams looking to bounce back from disappointing first round losses.
With five minutes left in the lacklustre affair a torrential downpour began, not that Sharks fans needed any extra reason to depart the ground as they witnessed their side's ninth straight home defeat.
The match played out predictably for an affair featuring two sides that really didn't want to lose.
It took 45 minutes for the first try to arrive, when Broncos halfback Ben Hunt sent centre Jack Reed through a gap with a superb flat ball. Reed was stopped at the try line before he released an ugly, bouncing pass back to winger Corey Oates. The video referee couldn't reverse the on-field call of try, despite the dubious pass. Corey Parker converted from out wide to make it 6-2 to the Broncos after the Sharks had led 2-0 at halftime.
Brisbane extended their advantage in the 62nd minute when Lachlan Maranta scored one of the easiest trys of his career, cleaning up an unfortunate spill by Sosaia Feki. Feki will remember not to run head-on into Sam Thaiday again. The Broncos enforcer forced the ball out of the Sharks winger's grasp with a vicious low collision as Feki looked to escape his own in-goal area. Hunt's resulting conversion attempt bounced off the post, leaving it 10-2 to the Broncos.
As they did last week, the Sharks came home with a wet sail, looking more and more dangerous as the match wore on. However they never managed to cross the try line.
Broncos fans will be especially thankful to Jordan Kahu for that fact. He made an unbelievable tackle on a charging Jason Bukuya late in the game to stop the Sharks second-rower dead in his tracks as he looked certain to score.
The first half began with some decent intensity before the match became an arm wrestle in difficult conditions.
Andrew Fifita, playing in his 100th NRL game, brought the opening kick-off back with purpose. And then dour battle began. The highlight of the opening half was some staunch goal-line defence by both teams.
The most impressive display of defensive desperation came in the 28th minute as Hunt did an amazing job in cover defence, chasing down a flying Ricky Leutele, before managing to knock down a would-be try assist back inside.
Soon after the Broncos had the best try-scoring opportunity of the first half after David Fifita committed an early-tackle knock-on. The Broncos reacted with a flowing backline move, spreading through the hands of Hunt, Anthony Milford and eventually Reed who sliced through to ground the ball. However referee Ben Cummins had some suspicion and took the decision upstairs where Alex Glenn was shown to have taken out Sharks five-eighth Ben Barba in lead-up play.
Sharks captain Paul Gallen decided to finally open the scoring after 37 minutes when the Broncos were penalised in front of their own posts. Gordon stepped up to make it a two-point advantage to the Sharks at the half.
Milford and Barba showed glimpses of their superstar potential,while Kahu was an absolute standout at the back for the Broncos in a game that won't be remembered for much attacking prowess.
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett was happy with the effort his side put in despite a lack of attacking potency.
"We were under a fair bit of pressure at different stages in our defensive line today and we kept turning up," Bennett said.
Captain Justin Hodges was similarly pleased with his teammates for their defensive efforts.
"I'm proud of the boys how they dug in to hold them to two points is a great effort... it's a credit to the lads," Hodges said.
Meanwhile Sharks coach Shane Flanagan lamented another error riddled performance.
"We turned over too much footy again," he said.
"Definitely I thought we competed. We tried real hard.
"Effort was definitely there. Commitment was definitely there."
The Sharks travel to Melbourne to face the Storm in Round 3 of the Telstra Premiership, while the Broncos will host the Cowboys.
Brisbane Broncos 10 (Oates, Maranta tries, Parker goals) defeated Cronulla Sharks 2 (Gordon 1 goal) at Remondis Stadium. Crowd: 8,369