Broncos Origin stars show class
Brisbane's four Maroons representatives backed up 72 hours after a huge Holden State of Origin series victory to lead their club side to yet another NRL win, and their coach was full of praise for their efforts after downing the Bulldogs 16-8 at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
Prop Sam Thaiday was named man of the match after making a huge impact, scoring a vital try and making a crucial try-saving tackle late in the game, while Origin III man of the match Corey Parker wasn't far behind, topping the metres (182) and offloads (five) of all players on the night.
Both Matt Gillett and Darius Boyd also played crucial roles with Gillett popping three offloads while making the second-most tackles of any Bronco with 36, to go with his 95 metres. Boyd's positional play made it tough for the Bulldogs kickers to find the turf all night and his 160 metres were the second most among all players other than Parker's.
Canterbury's Origin contingent were among their side's best – David Klemmer's 120 metres were the most of any Canterbury forward and Brett Morris set up his brother Josh's try as the pair were the only two of the five Bulldogs backs to reach 100 metres. Josh Jackson's 39 tackles were the most of any player in the match other than the No.9s – but it was the Brisbane and Maroons contingent who starred.
Their efforts drew high praise from Broncos coach Wayne Bennett after the match.
"They were outstanding; I couldn't be more proud of those guys," he said.
"Corey was still taking the ball up there late in the game. It was a hard game in terms of the intensity of the game and both sides completed well, there wasn't a lot of mistakes in the game, it was pretty much up and down the ground stuff and that put more pressure on these guys.
"We got a bit of an injury there [to winger Daniel Vidot], not serious but we had to bring a player off and that meant some of them had to stay a bit longer.
"Sam was outstanding, saved that try in the last tackle of the game, virtually, making that effort there.
"I thought Darius at the back was just so solid. We needed him there tonight because they have a pretty smart kicking game and I thought he handled that great and Matt Gillett, he did all he was asked to do as well so you can't ask more than that.
"As I said to them in the change room their teammates didn't let them down either. They led the way but their teammates were great."
The win is Brisbane's sixth straight, leaving them in outright first and with the unexpected achievement of going right through the tough Origin period undefeated.
Some of the players have had their workloads managed; Maroons centre Justin Hodges was rested from the Bulldogs game while Parker and Thaiday have had time off also. Bennett wouldn't rule out further rests for his representative contingent if circumstances required it.
"I'm not sure about that, I just want to see how these guys pull up this week, they've had a huge workload and it was a tough game tonight," he said.
"They've got six days off, seven days off before [the game against Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium next Sunday], they're pretty durable but I'm not going to say categorically they will play or won't play, we'll just see what shape they come back in."