Broncos suffer back-to-back heartbreak
For the second week in a row, the Brisbane Broncos suffered a crushing defeat, this time coming in a 14-12 loss within the final five minutes to the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park on Thursday night.
It's testament in itself that the Broncos only lost by two points as the Storm enjoyed a massive 43-8 advantage in opportunities inside the opposition 20-metre zone.
To say the Broncos were gutsy in defence is a massive understatement.
After beating the reigning premiers Cronulla Sharks in Round 1, the Broncos have dropped consecutive matches against the North Queensland Cowboys - in extra-time, and the Storm.
While they are devastated in dropping to a 1-2 hole to start the season, Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett acknowledged his side's courage and addressed the toll of tough back-to-back losses.
"It's a lot easier to keep your spirits up that way than to get well beaten," Bennett said.
"We played both grand finalists from last year and played the Cowboys who finished fourth. [We] know we're in the competition right now.
"These guys know if they get their execution right, they can be a real chance of doing something before the season's out."
Despite plenty of effort in defence on their own try-line, the Broncos withstood Melbourne's first-half dominance to open the scoring and only trailed 8-6 in a huge moral victory at the break.
Remarkably, the Broncos reclaimed the lead 12-8 with 30 minutes to go but ultimately a completion rate of 25 from 38 sets was too difficult to overcome against the Storm on the road.
"I'm not frustrated but the worst defeats are when you beat yourself," Bennett said.
"You know you've beaten yourself out there tonight. That's the feeling – not so much frustration – the disappointment that goes with beating yourself."
The Broncos schedule doesn't get any easier in the next month as they take on the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium next Sunday before taking on the Roosters at home and two away games in Sydney.
"Third game of the competition, we're playing absolutely quality teams," Bennett said.
"Cronulla, Cowboys, here (Melbourne) and it's not going to get easier in the next four or five weeks.
"We've got to learn on the job."