Broncos v Roosters: Five key points
McCullough's impressive display, the Roosters' awful record, Hunt's injury, and Moga's mixed night. The key talking points from the Broncos' big win over the Roosters on Thursday night.
Roosters' awful record continues
Going into Thursday night, the Roosters had lost their last 15 matches when trailing at half-time. It's an unwanted record that would explain their desperation to level the scores heading into the half-time break. They were unsuccessful in that pursuit, trailing 14-8 after an entertaining first 40 minutes of football. A contentious no-try decision in favour of the Roosters gave them hope early in the second half, but this belief soon faded. The Broncos scored through Korbin Sims just minutes after the decision, before Brisbane iced the game in the 70th minute through a Jordan Kahu penalty goal. Winless in their last four journeys to Suncorp Stadium, the venue is now a real graveyard for the Roosters.
Hunt hobbles off
Ben Hunt looked to be in a very bad way during the second half, hurting his hamstring and hobbling around the field in severe pain. To Hunt's credit, it didn't stop him from making a great one-on-one tackle after he had suffered the injury, but that was all she wrote for the Broncos halfback as trainer Alfie Langer helped him off the field. Hunt's next stop was up the tunnel and it was clear there was a lot of concern, however Wayne Bennett confirmed post-game that Hunt will miss between two and three weeks with the injury. Luckily for Brisbane, New Zealand international Kodi Nikorima made his return to the NRL off the bench. The 23-year-old is a half at heart so he had no trouble subbing in for the Broncos' star halfback – guiding Brisbane to victory.
Ben Hunt out for 2-3 weeks with a hamstring strain #NRLBroncosRoosters— Eden Richards (@Eden_Richards) April 6, 2017
McCullough the man to succeed Smith?
Two of Queensland's best hooking options came head-to-head in an intriguing battle that was set to have implications on State of Origin selection. It is well known that Cameron Smith is the game's – and the Maroons' – best No.9, but the battle behind him is close fought. Rooster Jake Friend and Bronco Andrew McCullough are widely regarded as the two most likely to take over from the 33-year-old when he hangs up the boots, and if that is the case then Queensland are in good hands. It was McCullough's night on Thursday, with the Brisbane rake having another outstanding game that was consistent with his great start to the season. Friend was good, but McCullough was great. The 27-year-old scored a try, set one up and made 48 tackles. Yet his most impressive act of the night was preventing a try. McCullough came from nowhere to chase down Michael Gordon metres from the try-line in a courageous effort. The desperate ankle tap typified a performance full of heart of from the Broncos hooker.
Broncos fail to take advantage of horrid Roosters defence early
"It's a great example of not taking your chances."
Greg Alexander put it best after the Roosters crossed for their first try in the 17th minute, and his thoughts were proven correct three minutes later when the Tricolours crossed again. Somehow Trent Robinson's men were even with Brisbane at the 20-minute mark, after having only had 35 per cent of possession in the first 15 minutes. The Roosters' terrible start was written in the statistics, missing 18 tackles in the first 15 minutes of play. The Broncos should have been up by two converted tries or more at that stage, but they could only manage a converted try and a penalty goal for eight points in that period. Once again it was a case of Brisbane not taking advantage of their opportunities - a common theme in recent weeks. If there was one positive to come from it, the Broncos had already scored more than the seven points they managed in a whole game the week before when they lost to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Luckily for Brisbane, a great second half performance helped them pile on the points and record a comfortable victory. Their point-scoring issues appear to have been solved.
Mixed night for Moga
Tautau Moga was once described as the next Israel Folau, but one of Australia's best sportsman wouldn't have been thrilled with the comparison after Moga's first 20 minutes. Moga missed three tackles in that period, with two of those being crucial mistakes. His missed tackle on Mitchell Aubusson resulted in the Roosters' first try of the night, but his next miss was perhaps worse. The Broncos lined up man on man for their goal-line defence and it looked as if nothing was on, but when Blake Ferguson received the ball it all changed. Ferguson stood up his direct opponent in Moga, embarrassing the 23-year-old in the process. It was one of the easiest tries Ferguson has scored in his career and it rubbed salt into the wound of the inconsistent Moga. In the 28th minute Moga compounded his poor start to the match, throwing an intercept to Aubusson. Moga followed this up by executing an unnecessary spear tackle on the Roosters second-row forward, with this play summing up a horror first half for the Broncos centre. Moga began his second half much like the first, knocking on with his first touch. To his credit Moga ran for well over 200m and recorded a try assist late, but he will need to get the errors out of his game if he is to fulfil his potential.