Broncos return to form to beat Eels
Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford helped inspire his side to a 38-16 win over the Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
It was arguably Milford's best performance for the year, with the young Broncos half terrorising the Eels' defence from start to finish.
His stellar game helped Brisbane overcome the loss of winger Lachlan Maranta before kick-off, with exciting youngster Jonus Pearson handed his debut.
Fellow winger Corey Oates scored a hat-trick, overcoming a run of poor form and rediscovering his confidence in the process.
Parramatta tried hard all night, but lacked the class and polish of a finals bound side like the Broncos.
Brisbane's top four hopes are now improving and they have their livewire half to thank, with Milford's scintillating footwork proving too much for the Eels.
After a classy first half, Milford continued his brilliant display in the second 40 minutes – beating three Eels defenders on his way to an impressive solo try under the posts. He converted from straight in front to give the Broncos a 20-10 lead in the 46th minute.
Oates bagged himself his third try of the night in the 57th minute, with Brisbane forward Tevita Pangai Junior producing a superb flick pass to put the hulking winger over in the corner. Parker continued his poor night with the boot, missing the conversion and keeping the score at 24-10.
Hunt continued the onslaught in the 61st minute, running at the Parramatta line and dummying to crash over for a try and make the score 28-10.
Pearson capped off a dream debut in the 65th minute, scoring his second try of the night. Parker converted well from the sideline and Brisbane's lead was suddenly 24.
The Eels added some respectability to the scoreboard in the 77th minute, with prop Danny Wicks running over the Broncos' defence to score a great solo try. Michael Gordon slotted the conversion to make it 34-16.
Milford put the icing on the cake as the final siren sounded, beating several defenders to put Pangai Junior over in the corner. Parker's dismal night with the boot continued and the score finished 38-16, but the Broncos didn't have it all their own way.
In a stark contrast to the second half, Brisbane started the match poorly and it cost them dearly early on in the contest, with the Eels dominating field position and silencing the Suncorp Stadium crowd.
A Tom Opacic mistake gave Parramatta an ideal opportunity to score in the 4th minute, and young gun Bevan French provided the goods, beating three Broncos defenders to score next to the right touchline. Gordon converted from a tough angle to give the Eels an early 6-0 lead.
The Broncos hit back moments later, with an exquisite cut-out pass from Darius Boyd finding debutant Pearson. The 21-year-old made no mistake – scoring his first NRL try and making the score 6-4 after 11 minutes.
Parker missed that conversion, but he made up for it in 16th minute as he converted a penalty goal that levelled the scores.
A dull period of play ended in the 32nd minute when Brisbane winger Corey Oates scored acrobatically in the corner. The score remained 10-6 as Parker again failed to convert.
Oates went from hero to villain in the 36th minute – knocking on a Jeff Robson kick in the in-goal. Parramatta forward David Gower pounced on the loose ball and his four-pointer tied the scores at 10-all.
Just as the crowd thought it would be all even going into the half-time break, Milford produced an individual act of brilliance that turned into one of the plays of the year.
The 22-year-old dummied on his own 40 metre line and broke through the Parramatta defensive line. He then beat Gordon at fullback and grubbered for Oates to score. Milford missed the conversion, but his act of genius gave the Broncos all the momentum heading into the break.
This momentum helped Brisbane run away with the match and secure a much-needed win.
Brisbane Broncos 38 (Oates 3, Pearson 2, Hunt, Milford, Pangai Junior tries; Parker 2, Milford goals) def. Parramatta Eels 16 (French, Gower, Wicks tries; Gordon 2 goals). Crowd: 30,189