There was something about the Broncos versus Roosters clash that led many to believe Brisbane had more than a hope in Hades.
I’m not quite sure why, considering the Roosters 8-1 record and the Broncos’ rather questionable recent form. Yet, to their credit, Brisbane lifted and challenged the Roosters from the outset.
It was to be the Chooks over the line first when James Tedesco crossed after nine minutes, as Cooper Cronk sat idle in the sheds thanks to an early professional foul. Payne Haas responded with a bullocking try in the 18th minute to level at 6-6, before the Broncos dug in courageously.
The Roosters created chances, but Anthony Seibold’s side held firm; converting a penalty, before making a crucial error close to their own line and allowing the Roosters a clean shot in the red zone.
To everyone’s surprise, the Tricolours couldn’t crack the Broncos and soon after, the Brisbane pack muscled up to the best team in the competition. It was inspiring stuff; Matt Gillett, Alex Glenn, Tevita Pangai and Haas displayed a level of aggression and application unlike anything Bronco fans have seen all season.
After a late Roosters penalty, the teams headed to the sheds at 8-8 and an upset was in the offing.
With planet earth thinking a Trent Robinson half time spray would bring the Roosters to life and encourage the visitors to put the Broncos to the sword in the second-half, what followed was surprising.
The Broncos took up the arm wrestle and despite some hair-brained sixth tackle moments at both ends of the field, the contest grew and grew while the scoreboard remained stagnant.
Matt Gillett missed a golden chance to score in the 60th minute when he spilled a ball after bursting through a gaping hole in the Roosters’ defence. Soon after, Alex Glenn was over the line but unable to ground the ball.
In the same set, Anthony Milford took a close range field goal opportunity to give the Broncos a 9-8 lead with 15 minutes remaining on the clock.
With Suncorp in raptures, new Bronco recruit James Segeyaro crashed over from close range and the home side had built a seven point lead with ten minutes remaining.
The Roosters pulled within five after a penalty goal; they huffed and puffed late, but the Broncos held on for a brave 15-10 victory that re-invigorates their season.
It was the effort the Broncos fans have been waiting for all season and the loss that Roosters supporters probably knew was inevitable. Based on the two teams’ recent form, not many expected either to occur last night.
If Penrith fans were anticipating or expecting a return to form against the New Zealand Warriors at Panthers Stadium, they will be extremely disappointed this morning.
The Panthers’ performance did little but confirm the plain, simple and ruthless NRL fact that they are well off the mark in 2019. So much so, that the Warriors cleaned them up 30-10 at the foot of the mountains.
It was a continuation of the schoolboy, error-riddled play of the home side, despite the significant personnel changes made by coach Ivan Cleary. From the outset, New Zealand out-enthused and out-executed Penrith, with two first half tries helping to set up a 14-0 lead at the break.
To describe the Panthers’ attack against the Warriors as impotent is being somewhat kind. Nathan Cleary and James Maloney continued their below average start to the season and, until the mountain men find a better play late in sets than merely handing the ball to Viliame Kikau and hoping for a miracle, they will not make dents in NRL defences.
It was a truly awful first half from Penrith, yet entirely consistent with their form of the last month. Without the ball, the Panthers did their best impersonations of fire hydrants, with a mountain of missed tackles hampering their efforts to revive their embattled season.
Sadly, the pattern of recent performances continued; plenty of possession and field position, yet little to show on the scoreboard.
The second half was a continuation of the first, with the Warriors patient and precise in attack and the Panthers fumbling and bumbling whenever the try line came within sight. Patrick Herbert knocked over penalty goal after penalty goal to slowly extend the lead and the home side remained scoreless until late in the contest.
Kodi Nikorima announced himself to the Warriors’ fans with a brilliant solo try in the 58th minute and with ten minutes remaining the 24-0 score line said it all.
Even two long awaited tries to Penrith in the final ten minutes did little to halt the Warrior’s momentum as Agnatius Paasi crashed over in the 74th minute to keep the margin safe for the visitors.
Stephen Kearney will be proud of his Warriors on the road. Their discipline in defence, ball control and application were much improved on recent efforts and the fact they were able to resist the predictable NRL momentum shift and a Panther comeback, speaks volumes about the Warriors attitude and performance.
As for the Panthers? At 2-8, it might be time to start planning for 2020.