Sharks v Broncos: Five key points
After both teams subjected themselves to a scrappy, error-riddled affair – these are the five things to take from the Broncos 10-2 win over the Sharks.
Sharks just aren't playing smart football
The stats don't lie.
The Sharks had the game at their feet on Friday night and couldn't, scratch that, failed to grab the bull by the horns.
The Sharks made 500 metres more and 60 less tackles than the Broncos and still couldn't score – other than Michael Gordon's meagre two points.
Sure, the Broncos scored two extremely lucky tries but the Sharks never helped their own cause when it came to their 12 errors.
Even when they did look likely, they would find some way to stuff it up whether that be through mistakes or shifting the ball out wide too early in sets.
It's a fact not lost on Sharks coach Shane Flanagan and one that is sure to hurt especially after such a promising pre-season.
"We competed really well but we weren't real smart. Effort was definitely there, commitment was there. I thought we were brave and had some attitude about us but we just turned over too much footy again," Flanagan said.
"All of our errors took too much petrol out of us and we didn't have the energy to attack then because of all the defence we did."
Hookers didn't learn lessons from last week
The new ruck interpretations set out this year on what defenders can and cannot do in a tackle quickly showed the greater importance hookers now have in attack in terms of getting out of dummy-half.
Last weekend the Sharks and Broncos fell victim to the quick-thinking of opposition hookers in Josh Hodgson and Issac Luke respectively, showcasing that an elusive rake was essential in 2015.
Unfortunately, bar one or two cracks, Brisbane's Andrew McCullough and Cronulla's Michael Ennis once again failed to get the memo.
In his 150th appearance, McCullough only ran for 33 metres in a fair reflection as to why Bennett handed livewire utility Kodi Nikorima his debut.
While Ennis fared a little better, it wasn't until the final 10 minutes that the veteran decided to pin his ears back and start making an impact. In fact, Ennis's quick feet from the play the ball in the latter stages of the game coincided with the Sharks looking most likely to cross the white stripe.
Both hookers certainly need to lift if they are to cause any concern for opposition teams moving forward.
Sam Thaiday back in Wayne's good books
Sam Thaiday could have taken his demotion by coach Wayne Bennett several different ways.
Despite starting on the sidelines for Brisbane for the first time since Round 1, 2011, it didn't prevent the Queensland and Australian representative from bouncing back in a big way.
With the veteran forward an absolute rock in defence – with 27 tackles to his name for no misses – Bennett was seemingly happy with the way Thaiday responded to criticism of him following the Broncos' big loss to the Rabbitohs just eight days prior.
"I had no problems with Sam's game – he was very good. Particularly in defence he was outstanding. His kick chase was great, he put plenty of pressure on," Bennett said.
"I think Sam accepted the fact that he had to take a bullet for the team and he had a really important role to play with what we did. He played everything bar the first 15 minutes in that game so he wasn't disadvantaged and he was good for us."
So that means he'll start next week, right Wayne?
"No, probably not," Bennett assured.
Cronulla drop nine straight at Remondis
It has been a long time between drinks for Cronulla at Remondis Stadium – 322 days in fact – since they last won at their home ground.
Of even more concern, the Sharks have only won three games in total in this same period.
In a day and age where winning at home is beyond essential for a club to be successful, the Sharks are simply treading water at this point in time.
When NRL.com asked coach Flanagan post-game about the matter, he was quick to draw a line in the sand by saying it wasn't something he was reading into considering his season-long absence in 2014.
"It's our second straight loss [at home] this year. I wasn't here last year. I understand where you're coming from but we'll just treat this season for what it is," Flanagan said.
"It's a new playing group and new club and we'll move forward with that. It's a disappointing start, I'm with you there, but we'll stay strong. You know, with Rabbitohs playing the Roosters this week we're only two points off one of them so we're not out of it by a long shot.
"We just need to concentrate on what we're doing and we'll get some results."
Anthony Milford should be thankful for Ben Barba's lacklustre start to 2015
All Bennett could offer of new Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford's performance on Friday was: "He was better than last week. He'll get there."
Statistically speaking, Milford has been even more disappointing than Sharks five-eighth Ben Barba.
But considering the circumstances of the former Dally M Medallist's arrival in the Shire, Barba has managed to keep the heat on him alone, and away from any other slow starts across the competition.
Known predominantly as a fullback in Canberra, Milford's shift to the No.6 jersey in the Sunshine State has bred indifferent results.
With seven missed tackles to his name and very minimal positives in attack for Brisbane, Milford will have to lift quick smart or threaten to overtake Barba – who at least managed two try assists last week against Canberra – in terms of being constantly crucified by anyone with a footy brain.