It wasn't always pretty, but Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett was proud of the way his troops dug deep in the key moments during their season-opening 26-18 Telstra Premiership win over the Cronulla Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
The Broncos led from start to finish on the back of their superior ball-handling skills in greasy conditions, but they had to survive a second-half assault from a Cronulla side spurred on by a parochial home crowd on Thursday night.
To make matters more difficult, they had to do it with 16 men after Alex Glenn was forced off with concussion just before the break and didn't return in the second half.
"I was pleased we scrapped it out. It was a scrappy game in many ways, but it was an intense game, a very tough game," Bennett said.
"[I liked] our refusal to give in. We were a player down at half-time and it put a lot more pressure on everyone else. They played pretty good in the second half, Cronulla, and we just stayed at it.
"Our ball control in the second half won us the game. It allowed us to maintain the lead and keep control of the game.
"Winning in a tough game like this will do everyone the world of good."
Bennett didn't single out any of his players following the eight-point win over the defending premiers, instead choosing to praise his side for their resolve to fight through adversity.
"It was a team effort, they all made a contribution, and we had to," he said.
"Cronulla played like a premiership team. They had a lot of confidence about themselves, and that's what a premiership does for you, it gives you confidence and belief. They never thought they were beaten at any stage of the game. We had to overcome all those things, so I'm pleased with what we did."
Broncos skipper Darius Boyd was one of the standouts in attack, throwing the final pass for tries to both of his wingers.
The star fullback said his side's attack was a work in progress, and praised five-eighth Anthony Milford for stepping up in the key moment to seal the two competition points with a trademark solo try.
"It's definitely a process and it will take time. We probably panicked a little bit and we just need to play the basics. It was the first hit out of the year so we just need to start slow and complete and keep in the game," Boyd said.
"I thought he (Milford) got better as the game went on. It's going to take a bit of time with all of us – 7, 6, 9 and 1 – with a few new structures and shapes, but as you saw at the end, he took it upon himself to do something as 'Milf' always does."