Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has praised the resilience of his team to put in an improved effort after last week's horror 59-0 loss to the Roosters while also questioning a critical strip call against Pat Carrigan late in Thursday's 20-18 loss to Manly.
Brisbane surged to an 18-0 lead – which would have been 24-0 at half-time but for Corey Oates getting his line wrong on what should have been Darius Boyd's second try – before going down 20-18 as Manly kicked a match-winning penalty goal after Carrigan was pinged for a contentious strip.
The Broncos could have challenged the ruling but had burned their only challenge on a frivolous penalty call a few minutes earlier.
Overall Seibold called it a step in the right direction.
"We were disappointed not to get the result on scoreboard but there was plenty of application; we didn't see any field position or footy in the second half," he said.
"There's a bit of a lesson we can take away from that … we had it all (the momentum) early and they had it in the second half.
Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Broncos
"It was a better performance from us."
He said the strip call – which came as Carrigan pulled the ball away a moment after Ashley Klein called 'held' – was "a really tough call".
"A one-on-one strip, if he had have called held, what normally happens is the guy gets to play-the-ball again so to lose game like that, I didn't think it was a penalty."
Lodge: We shouldn't lose games like that
However prop Matt Lodge was much more philosophical about the ruling, saying the team shouldn't have put themselves in a position where not getting a 50/50 call would cost them the game.
"I thought it was a one-on-one strip but I understand there's one referee," he said.
"I'm a fan of the one ref; he didn't have his eye on the ruck and made a decision on the run, that's what happens in football, we shouldn't have been in that position."
Seibold wasn't too critical of the wasted challenge, which came after Xavier Coates clearly took out Joel Thompson as he chased a Manly kick, preferring to back the players' judgement.
Coates otherwise had a strong game, scoring one try and setting up another and proving a huge threat in the air having come in in place of Jesse Arthars.
"He was good tonight, he's been working really hard at training," said Seibold.
"You can only go by what they do at training [with no reserve grade games], he's been working really hard, been very consistent and I thought he deserved an opportunity.
"I almost gave him an opportunity in round one … Xavier's very talented and we got a glimpse of it tonight."
Returning from rugby, veteran Ben Te'o played just 12 minutes late in the match which Seibold said was always likely to be the plan in his first NRL game since the 2014 grand final.
"It was just about getting him on the park," Seibold said.
"He joined us last Sunday, there's no Queensland Cup (to get him match fitness) and we're down some troops … he's a good influence around the group."