Thursday night games are back for the run to the finals, and naturally enough the Brisbane Broncos feature again. In 2018 they played on Thursday eight times, this year it’s seven.
Parramatta have stormed into the NRL’s top eight with a ruthless 38-10 rout of Brisbane at Bankwest Stadium, with Bronco Matt Gillett suffering a suspected broken nose and Queensland teammate Corey Oates bumbling badly.
The Eels banked five tries amid a 30-minute blitz during Saturday night’s opening half, embarrassing the Broncos with a blaze of offloads and brilliant passes.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters, already fuming about Jai Arrow’s ankle injury that ended his State of Origin series, would have been spitting chips when an accidental knee to Gillett’s head rearranged the star forward’s nose.
A bloodied Gillett passed his resultant concussion test and returned in the first half, while Broncos and Queensland teammate David Fifita also returned after an early head knock.
But the Brisbane forwards failed to stop a rampaging Eels, whose 26-0 advantage represented their biggest halftime lead in 14 years.
“Some of the tries they scored tonight were embarrassing,” said Broncos coach Anthony Seibold.
“The players are disappointed, embarrassed.
“We let the club down tonight. It wasn’t good enough.
“Parramatta showed they wanted it more and that’s what disappoints me … we got what we deserved,.”
Prop Junior Paulo set the tone by barging over for his first try of 2019, successfully taking on three tacklers to open the scoring, while Maika Sivo, Michael Jennings, Josh Hoffman and David Gower also crossed in the onslaught.
“They started really well, plenty of intent and energy … it’s making sure we can have the same desire, intent and attitude every week,” said Parramatta coach Brad Arthur.
Hoffman scored a second try after halftime, gift-wrapped by Broncos hooker Jake Turpin, but later left the field on a motorised stretcher and departed the ground in an ambulance.
Hoffman suffered a suspected neck injury, having copped an accidental blow to the head from teammate Mitchell Moses.
It was almost the only thing that Moses did wrong, having created much of the chaos that prompted the visitors to capitulate and hand the Eels a fourth victory from five outings at the new stadium.
Oates, playing his first game since igniting the comeback that led Queensland to victory in the Origin opener, scored a consolation try in the 66th minute but it was otherwise a horror night.
The winger spilled an early bomb from Moses, which led to Paulo’s opener, while he stumbled over the sideline when in a dangerous position with the Broncos trailing 16-0.
Oates then attempted to defuse a grubber from Moses but kicked the ball along the ground, allowing Gower to pounce for the easiest of tries.
You didn’t need to be a lip reader to work out what Oates screamed as he looked to the sky in disbelief.