Knights v Broncos: Five key points
The Broncos added further misery to the Knights' season on Monday night, downing them 31-18 in Newcastle despite missing plenty of their Origin stars. Here are the five key points from the final game of Round 11, from Wayne Bennett's first trip back to Newcastle to the rise of Brisbane's left edge.
Nothing personal for Wayne Bennett
Having left the Knights at the end of last season, Broncos coach Bennett made an unwelcome return to the Hunter by downing Newcastle's remaining major sporting team in tremendous fashion. However don't think for a second there was a personal motive attached to the veteran mastercoach's return.
"I've won here before as a coach," Bennett said post-game. "I'm just pleased we played well. There's nothing personal about it for me. It was just about us turning up here and keeping the momentum.
"We've played so well for 11 weeks now. I just don't want to lose that."
Another memorable chapter for Broncos during Origin period
A proud-as-punch Bennett point out his team was missing nine first-graders by the time they stepped out on to the field against Newcastle. Down 18-6 after 39 minutes, a nine-minute blitz in which they scored three tries enabled them to get back into proceedings big time with plenty of their young stars performing well throughout the game.
"[Being down 18-6] did put a little bit of doubt in my mind. I think they got two repeat sets down the other end there where our back five guys probably could've put the ball dead in goal but they didn't," Bennett said.
"We defended those. I said to my staff, we've got to defend these and if we defend these we're back with a chance. We kept it at 18-6 and just at half-time for them to come up with a mistake for us to score gave us plenty of hope."
One step forward, two steps back for Knights
Bitterly disappointed Newcastle coach Rick Stone didn't know where to look after the Knights' 13-point loss. After his team had ended their five-game losing streak by beating the Wests Tigers last weekend, the Knights stumbled when it mattered most against a Brisbane side missing an abundance of stars.
A Jordan Kahu line break from the kick-off to the second half was just the beginning of Newcastle's worries and it only just got worse from there.
"[The Broncos] really controlled the game really in the second half and we just gifted them with the momentum and they took advantage of it and pretty much kept the foot of the throat the rest of the half," Stone said after the loss.
"In the NRL, you have to compete hard but you also have to concentrate and execute. Our concentration after half-time wasn't to NRL standard. It definitely is [a knock to our confidence] – there's no doubt. We've gone another step backwards this week."
Broncos' left edge becoming more lethal every week
Such were the quality of Anthony Milford and Jack Reed's performances against Newcastle, it had Stone questioning the defensive structures of his right edge, mainly Akuila Uate and Sione Mata'utia.
"I think we tried to solve things on our own tonight rather than together especially on the edges and definitely on the right with Aku and Sione," Stone said. "Aku's position was untidy a few times and the Broncos took advantage of that."
Scoring three tries and setting up another three between them, Reed and Milford starred for the Broncos which gave Bennett confidence in the pair.
"Not sure whether they're going to be strong or weak on a given day but Newcastle obviously had some problems with their right edge defence and our players to their credit exploited it," Bennett said.
Korbin Sims's freaky try-scoring record
Newcastle lock Korbin Sims' performance was one of the few positives for the Novocastrians, with his 91 metres and 17 tackles holding him in good stead, but it was his try in the 18th minute which continued a freaky record for the 23-year-old.
After carrying four Broncos defenders over the line with him, Sims scored his third try in his NRL career. Remarkably, all three have come against the Broncos. These two clubs play each other again in five weeks time so Sportsbet punters beware.