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Broncos: 2018 season by the numbers

At the start of the pre-season last year Wayne Bennett gazed at a host of young unknowns on the training paddock and said "here we have our present and our future".

Those words proved prophetic in more ways than one with the likes of Jaydn Su'A, David Fifita, Payne Haas, Jamayne Isaako and Kotoni Staggs announcing themselves as NRL players with massive futures.

It was a season at the Broncos where for most weeks from May onwards Bennett's future was the story.

After two wins from the opening five games that speculation could have derailed the Broncos' year, but it didn't. That's a tribute to Bennett's coaching and the quality and character of the players.

Assistant coach Jason Demetriou played a key role as attack coach for the majority of the season and as a rock by Bennett's side. Looking back at the year, he first addressed the positives.

"For us to finish one win off top spot on 32 points after the start we had was an incredible performance," Demetriou told

Broncos: 2018 by the numbers

"To deal with all the off-field distractions as well showed a lot of togetherness and unity from the playing group, and they will take a lot out of that going into next year.

"It was a season where we blooded a lot of players and overall there were a lot of positive signs we will take into next year."

Counterbalanced by that achievement is the fact that the Broncos goal each year is to win the premiership and break what is now a 12-year title drought.

The 48-18 loss to the Dragons in the first week of the finals came after a week from hell, which continued into the game.

I think that variety is what helped us against the top sides where we were able to slightly alter the key areas

Broncos assistant Jason Demetriou

Alex Glenn was ruled out with a torn calf, Anthony Milford played with a dislocated shoulder suffered the week before and Fifita sustained a syndesmosis injury in the first half.

Corey Oates was carrying a calf injury and nearly didn't play, James Roberts was ill towards the back end of the week and hardly trained, Tevita Pangai jnr had a dodgy hamstring and on game day Korbin Sims had a match he will want to erase from his memory.

But this is the Broncos and Demetriou said excuses did not cut it.

"We want to win premierships and we didn't play a game against the Dragons that represented the jersey we wore or the team that we were throughout the year. There is no hiding from it," Demetriou said.

"At that time of the year there are a lot of blokes battling injury and we were on our bare bones as it was. Losing Alex Glenn was a massive blow and the injuries didn't do us any favours but the bottom line is we didn't play well. We led 10-2 but our defence was poor and we weren't competitive enough.

"I said to the players after the match that they need to remember the hurt of that game and take it into pre-season and the start of next year."

Home and away record

9-3 at home, 6-6 away

The Broncos, for the most part, fired against the best teams in the competition while being below their best against the bottom eight sides. They played top eight sides on 12 occasions and won eight, including two wins each over top four sides the Sharks, Rabbitohs and Roosters.

"I thought the two back-to-back losses against the Bulldogs and Cowboys [in rounds 21 and 22] really hurt us after good wins over Cronulla and Penrith," Demetriou said.

Leading try scorers

Corey Oates topped the try scoring list with 18 in another season where his powerhouse runs and stunning put-downs featured.

"Corey is one of the best finishers in the game as he showed at the back end of the season and Milford's form in the second half of the year played a big role in that as well," Demetriou said.

Demetriou took over as attacking coach in round six and from then the Broncos scored more points than any other side and more tries, with 78, than any other side except for the Storm and Sharks who scored 79.

Post-contact metres

Oates was the best with 49 post-contact metres per game but the Broncos had no players in the NRL top 10. They averaged 494 post-contact metres per game, ninth best in the competition.

"I'd like to see us fight a bit more in the tackle and I thought we dropped off a bit in the offloads, where we are pretty strong in 2017," Demetriou said.

Try scoring – attacking channels

The Broncos scored 35% of their 88 season tries down the left or centre-left and 33% down the right or centre-right to highlight their attacking threats across the park. The centre of the field accounted for  28% of their tries.

"I think that variety is what helped us against the top sides where we were able to slightly alter the key areas that we wanted to target and score points right across the field," Demetriou said.

"We scored a lot of tries in the middle third as well where Andrew McCullough doesn't get a lot of the credit he deserves for the good work he does through that middle with our big fellas."

Tries conceded – defending channels

The Broncos defence was often caught short on the edges with 45% of the 80 tries they let in for the season conceded down the right or centre-right channel and 31% down left or centre-left.

The chop and change of personnel and the absence of their best edge forward Matt Gillett for most of the season did not help.

"I thought our right edge started the season reasonably well but got progressively worse as the season went on," Demetriou said.

"Injuries in our back-row played a big part in that. We lost Matt Gillett and then Jaydn Su'A came in and got up to speed in the NRL and did a great job before we lost him as well."

Tries conceded from penalties

The Broncos conceded 32 tries in the set of six after giving away a penalty to finish in 10th spot in the NRL. Milford conceded most penalties for the year with 21. Demetriou said defending penalties was not the major issue with the side's defence.

"It is our try line defence that needs improving and we are the second worst in the competition for conceding tries from kicks, so if we can get that stat into the top five in the competition that will make us a top-four defensive team straight away," Demetriou said.

Metres gained from offloads

This is an area the Broncos must improve on after making 1327.5m for the year after an offload at 55.3m per game to be 12th in the NRL. Oates was the best performed after receiving an offload with 185.5m at 18.6m per offload received. In a telling statistic, the Broncos made 9.2m after each offload received, the second best in the NRL, which suggests they should be making more of them.

"An interesting stat is that in the first five rounds where we spoke so much about completions and not making errors we were 13th in the comp at 73% for completion rates and for the next 19 rounds we were top of the comp at 82% and played a lot more footy," Demetrious said.

"It shows it is more about the mindset and what you do with the ball than worrying about making mistakes."

Goal-kicking accuracy

Isaako, the competition's leading point scorer, was a revelation with the boot with a strike rate of 84%. He landed 65 of 80 conversion attempts and 29 of 32 shots for penalty goals and won games on his own due to his accuracy, with the 9-8 victory over the Wests Tigers in golden point the most memorable.

"For a young kid the way Jamayne handled high-pressure situations was a real plus for us," Demetriou said.

"In the home win over the Roosters, he scored a try at the end that he won [Dally M] try of the year for but his goal kicking earlier in that game got us on the front foot as well and kept us in touching distance."

Average age and NRL rookies

One key reason there is plenty of optimism about the future at Red Hill is that the Broncos are premiership threats while also being the equal-youngest in the competition with an average age of 24.8.

The Broncos also fielded the most rookies in the NRL in 2018 with eight. A rookie is deemed as a player that has played four or less NRL games prior to any given season and this year the Broncos played George Fai, Patrick Mago, Isaako, Fifita, Haas, Staggs, Gehamat Shibasaki and Jake Turpin with the latter five all making their NRL debuts.

Kicking leaderboards

Milford made vast strides forwards with his kicking game and the statistics for the year highlight his development.

Milford led the Broncos stats with kicks for the season (279), average kicks per game (11.6), kicking metres for the season (8712m) and average kick metres per game (363m) where he also placed second, fifth, first and second in the NRL respectively.

"Milford's kicking game was hugely impressive and his kick selection and kick variation was probably the highlight of the season," Demetriou said.

"I know a lot of people talk about kick metres. We weren’t making the metres from the back of the field that we did the previous year so you've got to kick from further within your own half which means you've got to get your kick metres up, so it is not necessarily an outstanding stat, but Milford's precision and his placement was as good as it has ever been and is going to be a real feature for him next year for sure." 

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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