Broncos too strong for slippery Eels
Brisbane survived a nervy final 10 minutes to claim their sixth win of the Telstra Premiership season with a hard-fought 28-16 victory over Parramatta on Anzac Day at Suncorp Stadium.
The slippery Eels threatened to ruin Brisbane's night when winger Bureta Farimo scored his third try with 10 minutes to go to take the score to 22-16.
Led by halves Corey Norman and Chris Sandow, the Eels kept peppering Brisbane's line in the dying minutes but had any potential comeback snuffed out by Anthony Milford who scored a 90-metre runaway try with three minutes to go.
On an Anzac Day where four out of five NRL games on show were decided by four points or less, Brisbane's 12-point win sends them back to the top of the ladder ahead of St George Illawarra on points differential.
Justin Hodges, Josh McGuire and Corey Parker led the way for the home side with the latter making 144 metres, 39 tackles and kicking six goals to take his goal tally in the NRL past 500.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett hailed the goal-line defence of his side, who were forced to make 46 more tackles than the Eels.
"We were good but they were very good too – they came to play here tonight," Bennett said.
"They were up-tempo in the second half and came out and really went for the jugular on us to get back into the game.
"But again we held and held and all of a sudden we scored down the other end against them (a long-range effort from Anthony Milford) – we got a lucky break but that's part of the game."
Trailing 8-4 at the break, Parramatta began the second half strongly but couldn't convert their field position into points and Brisbane made them pay with a try to Josh McGuire in the 47th minute.
Taking the ball out from the red zone, John Folau had the ball knocked from his grasp with McGuire the beneficiary as the Maroons Origin hopeful pinned the ears back and raced away for Brisbane's third try.
The Eels responded after 52 minutes when Norman sent Farimo over in the corner with Sandow adding the extras to have the visitors back within four points at 14-10.
An Anthony Watmough high shot on Lachlan Maranta enabled Parker to boot his third penalty goal of the night and hand Brisbane a 16-10 lead with 22 minutes remaining.
The Broncos extended their advantage two minutes later when interchange utility Kodi Nikorima, who had been on the field for less than a minute, found space through the middle after latching onto a Justin Hodges pass.
The 21-year-old scooted towards the try line but with Parramatta's cover defence closing in he flicked a pass behind his back for Anthony Milford who crossed for a try in his 50th NRL match.
Parker's conversion brought up 500 goals for the 307-game veteran and also gave Brisbane a handy 22-10 lead.
With 10 minutes to go the Eels appeared to have crossed for their third try through skipper Tim Mannah but the hand of Nikorima saved the Broncos from conceding a certain six-pointer.
The visitors still had three tackles left and crossed after two tackles when Farimo completed his hat-trick to take the score to 22-16 with eight minutes left.
Parramatta toiled away at Brisbane's line during the final minutes but couldn't find a breakthrough and it was game over when Milford dashed away for his second try of the night to hand the home side a 28-16 victory in front of 34,398 fans.
After opening the scoring through a penalty goal to Parker, the momentum swung Brisbane's way when Chris Sandow kicked the ball dead from the restart. The Broncos went on the attack from half-way and scored in the corner through diving winger Jack Reed.
Back-to-back penalties allowed Brisbane to extend their lead after 23 minutes when Parker added another two points to hand his side an 8-0 lead.
Having looked strong in the early stages, Parramatta finally scored the try they deserved one minute before half-time when Norman sent Farimo over out wide.
Brisbane Broncos 28 (Anthony Milford 2, Jack Reed, Josh McGuire, tries; Corey Parker 6 goals) def. Parramatta Eels 16 (Bureta Farimo 3 tries; Chris Sandow 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Half-time: Broncos 8-4. Crowd: 34,398. On report: Josh McGuire (Broncos), Anthony Watmough (Eels).