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The Roar


Hammer blow: Dolphins lose two fullbacks in one game as Cobbo double helps Broncos to derby glory

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12th April, 2024

Derbies are often rated on intensity rather than quality, and that was very much to the fore at Suncorp for the third Battle of Brisbane.

The Broncos eventually ran over the top of the Dolphins 28-14 to maintain their perfect record against their little brothers, but both sides conspired to produce 33 errors across a game that featured plenty of committed defence but little in the way of attacking flair.

Selwyn Cobbo came out with the most credit, scoring twice, while Reece Walsh made a solid return from injury and managed to stretch his legs for a length of the field try.

“It’s only his sixth game in the centres, but there was plenty to like about Selwyn tonight,” said Kevin Walters.

“He’s a big body, he can run, he can tackle, he’s strong. It’s exciting where Selwyn can get to this year as a centre threequarter for sure.

“It wasn’t the greatest of games but it was important for us that we won tonight, I so go home happy.”

Redcliffe were shorn of their best attacking weapon, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, thanks to an early hamstring tear but had took the lead following a mountain of pressure. His replacement at fullback, Kodi Nikorima, also limped off late.

Bennett said Nikorima would likely be fine for next week’s trip to Darwin to face Parramatta, but that the Hammer was likely to miss several weeks.


The Broncos contributed massively to that with a raft of errors, but were repreived in the second half when Redcliffe decided to drop the ball even more, including three that led directly to Brisbane tries.

Only in the last five minutes, when the Dolphins raised a late rally, and early in the second half, when Ezra Mam picked out Corey Oates with a superb pass, did a game of football threaten to break out.

Wayne Bennett’s men did enough to give themselves a chance in the first half, but couldn’t take it as the Broncos muscled up in defence. That kept Brisbane in long enough so that, when their chances came, there were able to secure the points.

“We just lost our way there for a small period of time,” said the Dolphins coach.

“We only completed about four in that space of time and that doesn’t work for us. It cost us three tries.

“(I was happy with) the way we fought back. They were getting easy tries and we were working pretty hard and getting nothing. We could have thrown the hands in the air and ended up with 50 on us. We didn’t do that.”


Brisbane rise to the occasion (eventually)

This was far from vintage Brisbane, but there’s too much strike in this team to be kept quiet for long.

Most of their issues were self-inflicted, not least four errors in the first half alone from Oates and three from Walsh, who at least made his while trying to make something happen.

There’s a fine line between continuing to play your way when things aren’t going your way – which, in the Broncos’ case, means high risk footy – and chasing the game unnecessarily.

In the first half, it did seem a lot more like the latter than the former, as if Brisbane couldn’t believe that they kept dropping the ball.


The thing about playing high risk is that you have to defend your effors, and Brisbane, for all their poor handling, certainly came willing to do that. The organisation was there and, when it wasn’t, the scramble was.

Even when things got better after the break, it wasn’t really that the Broncos’ performance improved that much.

Cobbo got two from errors, Walsh got one and Xavier Willison crashed over from a standing start a yard out. All were tries that you’d have to chalk down more to the Dolphins’ poor play than their own scintillating skill.

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That’s what you do have to do though sometimes, not least in derbies. You stay in the fight when things aren’t going your way and then try to strike when they are.

Redcliffe had plenty of chances in the first half when Brisbane made errors, but capitalised just once. The Broncos made the Dolphins pay every time.


No attack, then no ball

The thing about derbies, the logic goes, is that form doesn’t matter. Injuries don’t matter much either and neither do reputations.

Tabaui-Fidow left 25 minutes in with a hamstring injury, compounding an injury list that already includes Herbie Farnworth, Tom Flegler, Felise Kaufusi, Tom Gilbert and Connolly Lemuelu, all of whom you would have expected to start tonight.

Yet the Phins kept doing what they do, which might not always be pretty but is enormously effective.

They played half an hour almost completely in the Broncos’ end, forcing repeat effort on repeat effort, but were only able to make it count with one try, itself a bit of a fluke in that it took a bad error from Corey Oates and Jarrod Wallace coming from the clouds to score it.


The Bronx were able to parry most of what Redcliffe threw without a great deal of issue.

One line break from 18 sets and 42 tackles inside the opposition half was indicative of the issue at the Dolphins, which has often been about scoring points.

Once Hamiso had left, Anthony Milford came into the halves and Kodi Nikorima went to the back, which further limited creative capacity.

In many ways it is a tribute to Redcliffe that their team are so well drilled that a raft of injuries doesn’t alter their offering that much at all: they come in and do what they do, largely without any drop in consistency. Their floor is very high.

Against a side like the Broncos, however, it was more likely be about their ceiling. To win, they would have had to do all the boring stuff and then look to the Hammer, Herbie or one of their elite players to make it happen. With so many not on deck, it’s probably not that surprising that it never came.