Ben Hunt is back
Over the last few weeks Ben Hunt had failed to assert himself in a struggling team and was in a poor patch of form, playing well below his best. In a good sign that he’s been able to cope with the pressure of needing to step up his game, he bounced back against the Rabbitohs to put in a solid performance to help his team get a vital victory. He ran the ball and took the line on early, one of which resulted in a try as he exploited poor goal-line defence from the Bunnies to beat three defenders to touch over near the posts. His kicking game was decent without being remarkable and he made a conscious effort in the opening exchanges to make a better effort in defence, making some strong tackles. His technique slipped as the game went on but he didn’t make himself a liability either.
Overall it wasn’t his best performance of the year but the signs were there that his confidence is coming back and a return to form for both halves will be key to the Broncos getting their premiership aspirations back on track.
Broncos getting back to form slowly
After a dire run of form over the Origin period that had seen the Broncos start to lose touch with the Top 4 their 20 point win against the Souths will give them a valuable two competition points and return them to within striking distance of the Top 4.
It wasn’t an easy win for them as they had to cope with the loss of Origin stars Corey Parker to suspension and Matt Gillett to an injury pre-game. Coupled with another unfortunate injury to Jordan Kahu during the game that forced a backline shuffle the Broncos did well to hold firm in defence and avoid leaking points as they have recently become accustomed to doing. The scoreline suggests a more dominant win than what it might have been with both sides bombing their fair share of try-scoring opportunities. Regardless it was a much needed win that they can continue to build on in the run home to the finals.
Where can Souths go from here
With their defeat on Saturday, the Rabbitohs fell to their sixth straight loss having not sung their team song since mid May. It wasn’t a poor performance from them, the effort and enthusiasm was there but the execution in attack and gap in class between the two teams showed in the end.
The late withdrawal of Adam Reynolds and the pre-game suspension of their Captain Greg Inglis didn’t help matters. Keary stepped up well as the dominant playmaker and John Sutton did a fair job in his return to the halves but they just lacked the strike power and control to produce the points to knock over Brisbane. That lack of strike power has been hurting the Bunnies and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of room for improvement. With long-term injuries to outside backs like Bryson Goodwin and Hymel Hunt blunting their edge attack the Souths are being stretched for depth and it’s starting to show. With a fairly tough draw to round out the season including three games against current Top 4 teams it’s becoming quite difficult to see how they can recover to finish their season on a positive note.
Dummy half dilemmas
Throughout the year and particularly in recent times opinionated folks on social media have been arguing that Damien Cook is a better choice for the Hooking role than Cameron McInnes.
Cook has been used in a limited capacity this year and against the Broncos he wasn’t even a part of the final team until Reynolds injury put him back into the side. When he came onto the field though he made a big difference to the tempo of the Souths attack. His speed out of dummy half and quickness around the ruck allowed his team to get moving faster and gain better field position. His night was cut short with a concussion but he had a good impact in the time he was out there. It was enough to stir up debate about whether the right Hooker is starting for Souths.
McInnes style of play is more defence oriented and his service isn’t as quick. While he’s proven to be a threat close to the line this year his inability to get quick ball to his halves and forwards occasionally brings a halt to their attack. Cook’s offensive capabilities on the other hand suit the old style of Bunnies play better where Issac Luke’s running game was a vital part of their game plan. It’s clear the coach Madge is sticking to his guns and prefers McInnes no-nonsense approach to the Hooking role but the fans are wanting Cook to play a bigger part. Cook has suffered a few concussions throughout the year which could be a factor in his usage as a bench dummy half and no coach has or should ever listen to fan opinion but in a team that’s been struggling to post points perhaps a little change up is worth taking a risk on.
In The Sheds
Jordan Kahu reaggravated a pectoral injury during the game. He’s facing another 2-4 weeks out of action
Brisbane Broncos– 30
Tries: Lachlan Maranta (5m), Ben Hunt (14m), Corey Oates (19m, 62m), James Roberts (55m)
Goals: Jordan Kahu 3/3, Anthony Milford 2/2
South Sydney Rabbitohs– 10
Tries: Luke Keary (11m), Cody Walker (68m)