Defensive desire drives Broncos closer to decider
Perhaps Australian actor Eric Bana's character described it best when asked why he goes to war in the 2001 movie Black Hawk Down.
"It's about the men next to you, and that's it," Bana's character 'Hoot' said in a questionable southern accent.
While battles in trenches will always outweigh any on the football field, Hoot's analogy rang true for the Broncos after their thrilling 16-12 win over the Cowboys in the Queensland derby.
Brisbane managed to hold out a fast-finishing Cowboys side on the back of some gritty and determined defence; forced into making 50 tackles more than their opposition and receiving only 43 per cent of possession.
A pre-season boot camp helped, but the Broncos' army-like mentality in defence, which has been gradually building throughout the season, allowed them to win the battle of attrition against the Cowboys in a game played at lighting pace for the entire 80 minutes.
Brisbane's defensive resolve was put under extreme pressure while defending the Milton Road end of Suncorp Stadium in the dying stages of Saturday night's qualifying final.
However, they managed to hold out the Cowboys to earn themselves a week off and a home preliminary final against either the Roosters or Bulldogs.
It's this defensive will and desire, coupled with a genuine belief and trust in each other, which has served Brisbane so well in 2015 according to coach Wayne Bennett.
"That was the thing that won us the game there's no doubt about that," Bennett said.
"They had a lot more ball than we did and controlled it really well and got good field position on us but we kept turning up.
"You can't come into a game like this tonight if they haven’t got confidence in what they're doing and belief in what's worked for them all year."
After witnessing his side execute their defensive mantra of not letting their teammates down, Bennett rated his current herd of Broncos as one of the greatest defensive units he has coached during the club's history.
"We've had some wonderful defensive sides here and we've led the competition on a number of occasions over the years as one of the best defensive teams," he said.
"These guys are as good as any side I've had because they have a belief and trust in each other and they don’t want to let each other down.
"That's what you see out there – there isn’t some magical defensive system – they've all got pretty much the same defensive systems it's just these guys have bought in to it.
"The [players] buy into it and at the end of the day they drive and I just facilitate it."
While the statistics say premierships are usually won by the top-two defensive teams in the league, the Broncos will be looking to buck that trend in 2015 after finishing the regular season with the third best defensive record.
The last team to win a premiership with a defensive record outside the top two was Wests Tigers in 2005.
The last three premiers (Rabbitohs, Roosters and Storm) have all held the best defensive record at the end of the season, with Manly second best in 2011, while the Bennett-led Dragons topped the defensive column in 2010.
Brisbane last held the honour of having the NRL's most miserly defence during their 1998, 2000 and 2006 premiership seasons.
Describing the match as one of the fastest games he has played in, Broncos skipper Justin Hodges reiterated the importance of Brisbane's defensive desire.
"It's like what Wayne said – you've got to want to do it. It is easy saying it but the hardest thing is doing it," Hodges said.
"The guys put in for one another and don't let each other down – that's the best thing about the bunch of boys we've got – we genuinely care for each other and don't want to let anyone down."
Broncos halfback Ben Hunt also echoed the sentiments of his captain, coach and 'Hoot'.
"There's just a belief there that your mate beside you isn't going to let you down," he said.
"You might make mistakes here and there, but you've always got your mate there to clean up for you.
"It's something we worked hard on all pre-season and kept building on it all year."