If new coach Anthony Seibold thought he’d have things easy at the Brisbane Broncos, he’ll want to think again.
His tough coaching initiation at Red Hill continued when the Broncos suffered a heartbreaking 25-24 loss to St George Illawarra at home last week, and things could get even tougher when the northerners travel face the Sydney Roosters this Thursday night.
Last year’s Dally M coach of the year blasted his forwards following their inept display against the Dragons, this coming after highly sought-after prop Tevita Pangai Junior produced a phenomenal performance to destroy the Cowboys at home in Round 2.
The Broncos were slow out of the blocks last week, falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter of the match, but while they managed to steal the lead by half-time, they were left to rue their bad luck in the second half.
First, Jamayne Isaako dropped the ball with the line open, and then, with less than three minutes remaining, his field goal attempt sailed wide to the right just as it seemed to be on target.
In the end, it was ex-Bronco, and now Dragons five-eighth Corey Norman, who stepped up to win the match for his side with a successful field goal attempt and break the hearts of the fans who’d grown to love him as a player earlier this decade.
This leaves Anthony Seibold’s side with a 1-2 record after three matches ahead of their looming assignment against the Roosters at the SCG.
After dropping their season opener against the Rabbitohs at the iconic venue, Trent Robinson’s men have bounced back in the past fortnight, beating the Sea Eagles and Eels, both away from home and both without injured veteran halfback Cooper Cronk.
Last Friday night, in their first match back at ANZ Stadium since last year’s grand final triumph, they had to come from behind to beat a plucky Eels side, which had won their opening two matches in impressive fashion, by 32-18.
Making the win all the more impressive was that not only did they did it without Cronk, who was absent due to a hamstring injury, hooker Jake Friend also went down with an ankle injury which will sideline him for several weeks.
In Cronk’s absence, Lachlan Lam, the son of former Roosters halfback Adrian, has made an impression in the number seven guernsey, giving fans a glimpse of his potential and what to expect when the 35-year-old eventually retires from the game.
Lighting the fuse for this match-up is the fact the Chooks are chasing Broncos star Tevita Pangai Junior, who is also being strongly courted by the Newcastle Knights.
But the major highlight of the clash at the SCG will be that of centres Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts, who lined up together for New South Wales in last year’s victorious State of Origin campaign.
There is no doubt Roberts will have not forgotten his treatment by Mitchell during the 2017 qualifying final, whereby he was fended off as the latter scored a try that would win the match for his side.
Since then, the Broncos have won their last two matches against the Roosters, in rounds 11 and 24 last season; it was the latter defeat which would spark the Roosters’ run to the premiership, not losing another match for the remainder of the year.
And while the Roosters have played at the SCG three times since the turn of the century for three losses (their last win being against Parramatta in Round 6, 1999), for the Broncos this will be foreign territory, as this will be their first ever match at the iconic venue.
The match will be held during what is without doubt a very busy period for the ground’s curators and staff, this coming six days after the AFL match between the Sydney Swans and Adelaide Crows, and only two days before the A-League match between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory.
A win for the Broncos would be crucial as it would get their season back on level terms, while a win for the Roosters will see them go 3-1 up.