Hard-working Broncos get lucky, Manly rue a missed opportunity, Jordan Kahu further shows his worth and Jack Reed starts to win over Wayne. The key talking points to come from the Broncos' stunning 44-10 win over the Sea Eagles at Suncorp Stadium.
The harder you work, the luckier you get
It's an old adage coined by legendary South African golfer Gary Player that the harder you work, the luckier you get, and in the NRL in 2015 the Broncos are the living proof. 'Luck' was the word used by both coach Wayne Bennett and captain Justin Hodges to not only describe their 44-10 win over the Sea Eagles on Friday night but also their position on top of the table at the halfway point of the season. Yes, the bounce of the ball did go the way of the home side in a number of their tries but even Bennett conceded their good fortune is borne out of a relentless intensity that saw them produce a near flawless first half of football.
"There were probably three or four tries out there where we didn't knock the ball on, the luck of the bounce went our way but we were competing great," Bennett said. "I'm not underestimating how we're competing but on another night those things could have all gone against you. We're making things happen and we're pushing the envelope. We were on our game here tonight."
For Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey, the solution to have some of that good fortune rub off on his team is simple.
"When you're not winning matches it just tends to snowball and things don't go your way," said Toovey. "We'll just have to work twice as hard to turn things around and get some of that luck."
Momentum swings are everything
Given their opponents had played a near flawless first half of football Manly actually did well to score late in the opening stanza to trail 20-6 at half-time. When Brett Stewart scored a spectacular try on the back of some Daly Cherry-Evans brilliance the score was a respectable 20-10 and then from the next set Kieran Foran made a big bust down the left-hand side of the field and had Stewart looming in support on his right. More often than not, Stewart streaks away to score under the posts but on this occasion Boyd guessed right and managed to disrupt the pass without touching the Steeden and shortly thereafter Brisbane kicked a penalty goal to extend their lead to 12 points. They would score a further four tries in the final 25 minutes but could very easily have been fighting off a resurgent Sea Eagles instead.
"It was a huge moment," Bennett said of the Boyd play. "He got lucky! He could easily have not knocked the ball down, there was a risk factor involved what he did but he pulled it off."
"The boys knew that if we stuck to our game-plan that we could come away and get a roll on and put that first 30 minutes behind us and get a roll on," said Manly forward Blake Leary. "Obviously we didn't get the try and it turned around and we made it hard for ourselves but there was definitely belief that we could do it."
Kahu a priceless backline utility
He's a rare footballing talent now beginning to show the rugby league world what he is capable of after a horror run with injuries and Jordan Kahu's influence on the table-topping Broncos is significant. His bravery and skill to contest a Ben Hunt bomb by crashing into a flying Jorge Taufua and flicking the ball back into the arms of Justin Hodges for the opening try was extraordinary and later in the game he was able to move from the wing into the centres to give Hodges an early finish. He covered wonderfully at fullback in Darius Boyd's absence at the start of the season and with Corey Parker rested against Manly kicked six goals from nine attempts. Although off-contract at season's end, Bennett had this to say on Kahu's prospects of remaining at the Broncos in 2016 and beyond.
"We've lost too many good players here; we don't intend to lose any more."
Tough run home welcomed by Broncos
The Broncos may have 15 days to enjoy their view from the top of the Telstra Premiership ladder but coach Wayne Bennett says the real test of his team is yet to come. Although there will be a heavy Bronco contingent in the Queensland team named for Origin II on Tuesday Brisbane don't run out again until June 21 when they travel to Melbourne to take on the Storm. Their final five games of the regular season are all against teams currently in the top eight, allowing Bennett to ensure his high-flying team keep their feet on the ground.
"We've got a lot of challenges in front of us. We've got all the top teams to come yet," Bennett said. "We're just on a bit of a journey at the moment, we'll see where it all takes us. If you're playing well it doesn't really matter but if you're not playing well it becomes an issue because you lose more confidence. That remains to be seen, it's out there in front of us.
"No one is getting too excited or carried away and then you get to the playoffs and you've got to play all those teams again so it's quite a challenge for us."
Jumpin' Jack Reed looking oh so flash
You get the sense that Jack Reed may be one of Wayne Bennett's pet projects but the master coach – in his inimitable way – insists the transformation is far from complete. With the Brisbane left side tearing opposition defensive lines to shreds in recent weeks, Reed was able to bury some personal demons with yet another superb display against Jamie Lyon's Sea Eagles on Friday night. He scored a try of his own and set up two more for his teammates with 23 tackles and three line-break assists rounding out the type of performance that is keeping Dale Copley in the Intrust Super Cup.
"I had lots of thoughts about Jack. He's changing them," was Bennett's brief appraisal upon his return to Brisbane.
Captain Justin Hodges was a little more expressive, noticing an enhanced work ethic in the England international who hails from Bribie Island.
"It's the hardest I've seen him work and the fittest he's been and the best his body shape he's had," said Hodges. "He's worked hard and it's a credit to him. He's worked hard and he's got his spot and he wants to keep it."