Broncos v Rabbitohs: Five key points
The Queensland fullback battle heats up, Nikorima gets his chance at big minutes, and Oates scores a contender for try of the season. The key talking points from a heated contest as Brisbane prevail over South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium.
Friday night's fiery affair
The two teams discovered a real hatred for each other throughout the match, with both forward packs trying to assert their dominance over the other. Referee Jared Maxwell issued a number of warnings to both captains as several flare-ups crept into the game. Sam Burgess went on report for a late shot on Brisbane forward Joe Ofahengaue, with the hit sparking an all-in brawl. Somehow no punches were thrown, but both teams were certainly keen to go on with the hostilities. Moments later, Broncos prop Adam Blair hit Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds with a late shot to the jaw. Reynolds had to be assisted from the field and Blair went on report. South Sydney teammates were fuming at Blair, with the 30-year-old seemingly going out of his way to attack the jaw of Reynolds.
Mass changes for Maguire
The Rabbitohs made a host of changes before kick-off and it was the sign of a team down on confidence. It was a sign coach Michael Maguire is still undecided on his best line-up, naming a completely different 17 on Tuesday afternoon.
George Burgess and Kyle Turner were late withdrawals with injuries that were known days before kick-off. Damien Cook started at hooker and Cameron McInnes, who was named in that position, went back to the bench. Paul Carter was recalled to the starting line-up and the 23-year-old was one of the Rabbitohs' best.
Kirisome Auva'a, who was named at centre, dropped back to the bench after the inclusion of Dane Nielsen. Nielsen made his Souths debut, with the 30-year-old now having represented five NRL clubs. Moving Auva'a to the bench proved to be a masterstroke from the Rabbitohs mentor. Centre Hymel Hunt injured his pectoral muscle early in the match and was gone for the rest of the game. Auva'a easily slotted into the centres avoiding a potentially disastrous situation if he hadn't been included on the bench. Auva'a played a key part in the match, preventing a certain Corey Oates try when he ran back in defence and batted the ball out of Oates's hands.
Battle of the Queensland fullbacks heats up
The two favourites for the Maroons fullback jersey went head-to-head at Suncorp Stadium and although Brisbane won the war, Inglis won the battle. The Souths captain tried hard all night, running for 156 metres and featuring heavily as the Rabbitohs continually pushed hard to take the ball out of their own end. South Sydney struggled for possession all night and Inglis was kept very busy at the back. His positional play is second to none and if he wasn't at fullback then the score may have been a lot worse for the Rabbitohs. He capped off a great performance with a try in the 52nd minute, his seventh in six games against the Broncos. Although Inglis performed well, Boyd was as consistent as ever at the back for the Broncos. Boyd does the small things well for his side, organising their attack and defence when they need it most. He is the unsung hero of the Broncos side and he is arguably the safest fullback in the competition. Whoever Queensland coach Kevin Walters picks will do the job well for their state.
Nikorima gets his chance
Andrew McCullough injured his knee severely in the 24th minute and was gone for the game, presenting Kodi Nikorima with a chance to shine. Nikorima is highly regarded at the Broncos and many believe he deserves to be a starting hooker. In the 34th minute, he proved why. A standard scrum formed 15 metres out from the Souths line and it looked as if Brisbane would implement a backline move that would end in the hands of winger Jordan Kahu. Nikorima had different ideas. He packed the scrum at lock and the ball was fed through to him. He then grabbed the ball and darted down the short side, catching the Rabbitohs napping and running through a gap to score next to the posts. Nikorima might be the x-factor Brisbane need to go one better in 2016 and he will now get his chance to prove his worth with McCullough looking likely to be out for a period of time.
Oates for Origin
Corey Oates has been in the State of Origin discussion all year and he may have just cemented his spot for Queensland with one unbelievable play. Oates scored a try that involved perhaps one of the greatest put-downs in recent history. It's a try that needs to be seen on NRL.com to be believed. Running for the corner with defenders all over him, Oates dived and somehow kept his body from going into touch. He defied gravity, keeping his left hand out of touch and planting the ball with his right. He managed all this with Rabbitohs winger Aaron Gray hanging off him. It was a move that perhaps only the 21-year-old Oates could have pulled off and he deserves his chance at Origin level. He now has to be the favourite to snag one of the vacant backline spots left by injuries to Billy Slater and Will Chambers.