Corey Oates is taken from the field win a concussion.

Bennett believes Broncos improved

The Broncos were embarrassed by the Storm on Friday night but you wouldn't know it if Wayne Bennett is anything to go by, with the Brisbane coach telling media after the match that his side had improved from their 40-14 loss to the Bulldogs the previous week. 

That 26-point smashing was nothing compared to Friday night's Round 17 Telstra Premiership affair, with the Broncos suffering a 48-6 drubbing at the hands of Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium. 

It was the worst loss at Suncorp Stadium for the Broncos in their history, and Brisbane have now conceded 88 points in two weeks. 

The Broncos could now finish the round in seventh place and their spot in the top eight appears at risk. 

Despite all these facts, Bennett says his side's defence isn't as bad as the lopsided scorelines suggest.  

Brisbane lost winger Corey Oates to concussion in the 17th minute, with back-up hooker Kodi Nikorima forced to play on the wing. 

The 174cm Nikorima was no match for his opposite number in Suliasi Vunivalu, with the 192cm 'Flying Fijian' crossing for three tries. 

Cooper Cronk and Blake Green kicked to Nikorima's wing constantly and it was almost cruel watching the much shorter Nikorima attempt to contest in the air. 

 


"We were better than we were against the Bulldogs. I thought Melbourne were very good and they exploited our weakness when we got the injury to Corey on the wing," Bennett said.

"We were better defensively this week than we were last week. Five of those tries we conceded tonight came off kicks. 

"If you look at the first two tries they scored you'll see it was just one defensive error that resulted in each. 

"We had a 22-year-old turn to his outside when he's trained every day of the week with us to stay where he is. The other one was a 19-year-old turning to his inside. 

"They aren't huge defensive errors but they are in a game against a quality football team. 

"That meant 12 points and they were the only errors we made in defence at that point in the game. 

"I thought we were doing great early on and that the guys were doing their job. From then on they scored off four or five kicks." 

Brisbane trailed 30-6 at half-time, but if you had just looked at the statistics after the first 40 minutes then you would have thought otherwise. 

Unbelievably, the Broncos managed to have more of the possession, completing at 94 per cent in the first half.

Those statistics say the Broncos didn't perform as badly as the scoreboard suggests, and Bennett was quick to agree with that statement. 

"You don't complete at 94 per cent if you aren't doing something right," he said. 

"I went into half-time knowing what the score was and that I couldn't change the scoreboard, but I knew we were trying hard and putting in with a lot of effort. 

"The injury to Corey changed the whole course of the game."

The Broncos have a bye next week, and seeing Oates's injury is only concussion, it means that he is likely to play in his side's next match in Round 19 when they face the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium. 

Nikorima playing out of position to replace Oates was never going to work for the Broncos, especially against such a formidable kicking game like that of Cronk's. 

However, what makes Nikorima's performance remarkable is that he played a lot of the game after dislocating his shoulder, with the New Zealand international dislocating it a second time when Vunivalu put a big hit on him as the full-time siren sounded. 

Bennett praised Nikorima's effort to stay on the field and tough it out as he continued to face an aerial onslaught from the Storm halves. 

"Kodi dislocated his shoulder early in the first half," he said.  

"He stayed there in the second half and I don't know what we would have done if he hadn't have stayed on the field for us. 

"We're lucky he stayed on so I have no criticism of Kodi."