2021 NRL Round One, Broncos 16 Eels 24 – Report

Andrew Pelechaty reviews the Broncos v Eels game at Suncorp Stadium ….. Here’s how the game went.


Broncos 16

Tries: David Mead (9), Xavier Coates (17, 31)

Goals: Jamayne Isaako (11, 32)

Eels 24

Tries: Reed Mahoney (47), Clint Gutherson (49), Blake Ferguson (58), Junior Paulo (78)

Goals: Mitch Moses (48, 50, 60, 80)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Reed Mahoney (Eels)
2 pts – Isaiah Papali’i (Eels)
1 pt – Blake Ferguson (Eels)


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1st Half

Both sides entered season 2021 with points to prove. After a nightmare 2020, Brisbane would’ve been hoping their new coach – and favourite son – Kevin Walters would install some pride back to Red Hill. As for Parramatta, could they rebound from another underwhelming straight set finals exit? At least they’d stand out with their incredibly bright yellow jerseys.

Infront of a big Suncorp Stadium crowd, the Broncos dominated the first half with three tries to nil.

David Mead (in his first NRL game since 2017) scored Brisbane’s first try of the season in the ninth minute, going back in against the grain from a right to left attacking raid. Jamayne Isaako converted to give Brisbane a 6-0 lead.

Parramatta had a chance to strike back, but Shaun Lane knocked on close to the line. They got a reprieve soon after: Clint Gutherson knocked on close to his line, but the Brisbane chasers were ruled off side.

The much-maligned Anthony Milford combined with Xavier Coates (celebrating his 20th birthday) for the Broncos’ next two tries.

The first came from a beautiful Mliford kick to the right corner inside the Eels’ 40, with Coates catching and scoring: an early contender for try of the year.

Fourteen minutes later, Milford and Coates combined down the right, the time Milford throwing an equally beautiful cut-out pass, looping it over the Eels’ defense like a temptingly flighted off-break. It wasn’t all good news for Coates, going off for a HIA after he landed awkwardly on his neck after scoring. Isaako converted from the sideline to give Brisbane a 16-0 lead.

While Brisbane had 63% possession in the first half, Parramatta’s eight errors and 13 missed tackles hurt them.

HALF-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 16 Parramatta Eels 0

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2nd Half

Parramatta were first to score in the second half, with Reed Mahoney scooting over from dummy half. Mitchell Moses slotted the goal to reduce the deficit to 10 points.

Gutherson closed the gap even further two minutes later, swooping on a lovely Blake Ferguson infield kick 20 metres from the tryline. The new Bunker rule – where a try can be reviewed after it’s awarded but before the conversion is taken – was used to check that Mead had played at the ball in the lead-up and that Ferguson stayed infield before kicking, but it was all clear. Moses kicked the converted to cut Brisbane’s lead to 16-12.

There were injury concerns for John Asiata (playing his first game for the Broncos) after a collision with Keenan Hipgrave. Asiata was stretchered off and taken to hospital. With Matt Lodge and Coates already off the field, this would test the Broncos’ resolve.

After experiencing an unusual try drought in 2020, Ferguson got off the mark in his first game on 2021, using his strength to barge over in the right corner and level the scores. Moses drilled the sideline kick to put the Eels in front with 20 minutes left.

Brisbane looked like regaining the lead when Milford broke down the left; he offloaded to Brodie Croft, who kicked it to the try-line. Jake Turpin nearly grounded the ball, but was denied by some desperate Eels’ defence.

Parramatta sealed the game with a try to Junior Paulo just before full-time.

In arguably the most entertaining game of 2021, Parramatta scored 24 unanswered second half points, while Brisbane again went scoreless after halftime. Despite this, the Broncos showed that they may climb off the bottom. Meanwhile, Parramatta will be happy to escape with the two points before an epic Thursday night Bankwest clash with the Storm.

FULL-TIME: Parramatta Eels 24 Brisbane Broncos 16


Xavier Coates (Broncos) – neck – to be monitored.
Matt Lodge (Broncos) – hamstring – return Round 3 or Round 4.
John Asiata (Broncos) – shoulder – to be monitored.

Match Review Committee


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