Storm v Broncos: Five Key points
Two quality sides who look set for a rematch in September, a defensive performance for the ages, the Storm look to re-build with a few injury concerns, while the Broncos have all but secured a top four finish.
Defensive performance for the ages
If defence wins premierships then this game proved the Brisbane Broncos are in The NRL Telstra Premiership up to their eyeballs in 2015.
Wayne Bennett's men repelled 11 goal line dropouts during an 80-minute resilience that ranks up there with the best the club has seen.
The visitors had just 40% possession and nine fewer sets, yet made every one of their 453 tackles count, missing only 10 times. After Corey Oates crossed to put the Broncos ahead in the second half, the remaining half hour was played almost exclusively up the Broncos end of the field. It was the true definition of defiance that left Wayne Bennett ranking it amongst the best he has seen.
"I've seen a lot of great defence in my time, how do you categorise it?" Bennett said after the match.
"If you want to put it in the grand final of something it definitely is.
"Nothing amazes me about them. I've got my expectations of them and I know what they are capable of."
Stand-in captain Sam Thaiday was also pleased the hard work was beginning to play dividends.
"It was very tough but you work so hard week in week out to trust and know that your defence is going to hold out," he said.
"They did a fantastic job to get repeat sets against us but we just held strong and kept showing up for one another and that is a great sign to see where our team is at."
Parcell saves the Broncos skin
Take a bow Matt Parcell. Of the 453 tackles the Broncos made on Sunday it was his effort in the final minute that proved the most important.
The home crowd rose to its feet as Felise Kaufusi found himself with some space and charged for the line. However he was stopped in his tracks by the 22-year-old Bronco who leveled the Storm youngster on fifth tackle to halt the onslaught and secure a famous win.
"It was a huge play, he had to make it and he knew he had to make it," Wayne Bennett said.
Sam Thaiday left no doubts of how important he thought Parcell's heroics were as he added – "That was the game right there."
Top quality game from two quality sides
Each side may have been missing a duo of Origin stars but that did nothing to dampen the high level of rugby league that was on display at AAMI Park on Sunday. From the opening kick off the two teams showed their top four credentials as they played out an end-to-end epic.
The 14,000-strong crowd had little time to pause for breath as the ball travelled the length of the field with what seemed every complete set. Only five tries were scored, proving there is much more to this game than scoring points. Given that neither team was at full strength and still managed to put on that kind of show makes you think that we will be hearing a lot more from these two rivals come September.
"I'm pleased about the actual game, everybody thought it was a wonderful game of football and that is what you want on Sunday afternoons," Bennett said.
"We came up on the right side, it won't always happen but today it did and it was great football, it had everything."
The Storm enter the Crossroads
Sunday's defeat was the Storm's six loss of the year and their fifth by less than five points. Another heartbreaking loss has left the men from Melbourne facing a season defining few weeks.
They now face back-to-back road trips against fellow top-eight sides Canterbury and New Zealand on either side of their bye week and are unlikely to recall Cooper Cronk, leading try-scorer Marika Koroibete and big man Jordan McLean for at least the trip to Canterbury next Monday night.
The men in purple entered the Origin period two games inside the top four but may now drop to fifth should the Roosters win on Monday night.
Broncos poised for something special
Wayne Bennett would never admit it, but when he returns home to Brisbane and sits on the couch he must be pleased with where his side currently stands. The Broncos sit top of the ladder at 11-4 with a favourable run of games to come.
They play the Bulldogs twice in six games in what is their only match-up against a top eight side during that stretch. They will go in heavy favourites at home to Newcastle, Wests Tigers and Gold Coast meaning it would take a monumental collapse for Brisbane to not secure a top-four finish for the first time since 2011.