Shannon Meyer reviews another Broncos’ loss, this time to South Sydney. Here’s how the game went.
|13th||Try Dane Gagai (South Sydney)||South Sydney 4-0|
|14th||Goal Adam Reynolds (South Sydney)||South Sydney 6-0|
|17th||Penalty Goal Adam Reynolds (South Sydney)||South Sydney 8-0|
|19th||Try Herbie Farnworth (Brisbane)||South Sydney 8-4|
|21st||Goal Kotoni Staggs (Brisbane)||South Sydney 8-6|
|30th||Try Adam Reynolds (South Sydney)||South Sydney 12-6|
|31st||Goal Adam Reynolds (South Sydney)||South Sydney 14-6|
|35th||TRY – Mark Nicholls (South Sydney)||South Sydney 18-6|
|36th||Goal Adam Reynolds (South Sydney)||South Sydney 20-6|
|44th||Try David Fifita (Brisbane)||South Sydney 20-10|
|49th||Penalty Goal Adam Reynolds (South Sydney)||South Sydney 22-10|
|66th||Try Tom Burgess (South Sydney)||South Sydney 26-10|
|67th||Goal Adam Reynolds (South Sydney)||South Sydney 28-10|
This game had a lot to live up to for the mid-week hype. Firstly it was the tiresome coaching feud between Anthony Seibold and Wayne Bennett, then the Coronavirus NRL bubble breaches by Bennett and Broncos legend and “trainer” Allan Langer. Then there was Kotoni Staggs’ revenge porn troubles. Finally, Tevita Pangai Junior was also in the news for admitting talking to the Roosters’ main man Nick Politis.
A wet night awaited both teams, a worry given some of their handling and errors at times this season.
Those fears were proven, with a kick out on the full by Adam Reynolds within two minutes and on Souths’ first attacking set. The Broncos were unable to take advantage of the field position as Staggs’ blindside run ended with himself into touch.
Reynolds had a bad opening to the game as he spilled the ball after Souths had multiple repeat sets/Set Restarts.
To distract from the early ball and errors and general dross on offer, a mini-scuffle broke out between Jake Turpin and Dane Gagai.
Gagai was laughing not long after, as he was the recipient of some crisp passing on the left from Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell to slide into the left corner. A Liam Knight offload started the momentum with a fine offload to Tevita Tatola, who stormed up the middle for prime position for Souths to attack.
Reynolds slotted the sideline conversion, and he added two more not long after as the Broncos were penalised for obstruction whilst the Rabbitohs chased a customary fifth-tackle bomb from Reynolds.
Tom Dearden showed why he may well be the cut-price halves saviour for Brisbane, as a nice dummy and run down the right side got the Broncos close to the line. One Set Restart later and quick passing to the left from Brodie Croft and Darius Boyd found Herbie Farnworth with plenty of space to stroll to the line to open up the scoring for the away side.
The game became quite the arm wrestle, with the occasional Set Restart thrown in, which seemed to be coming more regularly than normal tonight.
But eventually Souths did take advantage with under 10 minutes to play in the half, when Souths winger Jaxson Paulo created a try from nothing in the right corner, as he nutmegged Croft with a desperate grubber, and Reynolds found himself alone in the Broncos in-goal with just the ball for company, which he fell on to score, with the help of the Bunker who dismissed any offside rulling.
A few minutes later, a try that sums up the Broncos’ post lockdown run was scored by Souths forward Mark Nicholls. Perhaps the Broncos were expecting the Rabbitohs to take the two after penalty 10 metres out, but they hardly looked ready for the tap restart, and Nicholls was hardly a steam train as he approached the Broncos’ defensive line. Nicholls simply brushed a woeful tackle attempt by Jake Turpin and pushed ahead through other defenders to score a try that was way too easy, and the Rabbitohs were looking at a 14-point half-time lead.
Given the Broncos average six points in the second half in the 2020 season, that 14-point deficit in the wet looked like plenty for Souths.
A good start for the Broncos in the second half, as the new million-dollar young gun David Fifita proved how dangerous he can be as he bulldozed his way through some Souths defenders to score in his first game back since round two.
Just as the Broncos were pressuring Souths in attack and possibly should have scored, they gave away some cheap and slightly debatable penalties and 90 metres of territory; the second penalty turned into another two points for Souths – courtesy of Reynolds’ boot – in the 49th minute.
Souths took back control of the game, earning two repeat sets, before a third excellent grubber almost led to another Rabbitohs try. Tom Burgess was ruled to have knocked on, denying the Souths forward a rare try.
The Souths prop got another chance in the 67th minute when he pushed his way through the Broncos’ line in a manner as soft as Nicholls’ try in the first half. The English international wasn’t far out from the line, neither was he at full pace. The Broncos needed three tries to equal Souths with 12 minutes to go, something that was as likely as a 2020 premiership.
The match wound down without a great deal of action in the remaining 10 minutes; a successful challenge by Souths and then a missed penalty goal being the most exciting moments as another game slipped away from Brisbane.
Souths’ latest victory moved them to sixth position on the ladder, and they’re looking solid enough for a lower top eight slot in the finals.
The Broncos played OK at times against the Rabbitohs, but those soft, soft tries they conceded highlighted how poor they can be, and why they will continue to socially distance themselves from the top eight in 2020.
It wasn’t a game of too much quality to be honest, but one of the saviours on the night was the Set Restart. Without the post-lockdown addition, Friday night’s game would have been an almost unwatchable stop-start affair. For all the justified questions on its merits, it was a game like this where the standard Broncos Friday night fare was a little more palatable.
In a season with very little to cheer about for Queensland rugby league fans, at least the return of David Fifita brought some hope with the end-of-season State of Origin series in mind. He looked good enough for a first game back, looking as dangerous with the ball as ever at times. He’ll get better, and for Queensland fans he’ll have to.
A shout out to an underrated Rabbitohs player to end the highlights, with Alex Johnston having yet another solid night for Souths. He may not carry the headlines of others in the team, but his contributions are always solid, he is as honest a player as you will find, and he is a great try scorer as well. It doesn’t look like he will be offered an extension with Souths next year, which will be a massive shame. Souths won’t realise how much they will miss him.
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Campbell Graham 4. Dane Gagai 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 15. Liam Knight 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Cameron Murray. Interchange: 14. Mark Nicholls 16 Patrick Mago 17 .Keaon Koloamatangi 18. Jack Johns.
Brisbane Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Richard Kennar 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Xavier Coates 6. Brodie Croft 7. Tom Dearden 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. David Fifita 12. Tevita Pangai Jr 13. Patrick Carrigan. Interchange:14. Isaac Luke 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Ben Te’o 18. 20. Matthew Lodge.