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2021 NRL Round 12, Broncos 12 Storm 40 – Report

Shannon Meyer reviews another regulation Melbourne Storm win over the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.

SCOREBOARD

Broncos 12

Tries: Kobe Hetherington (47) Jesse Arthars (56)

Goals: Jamayne Isaako (48, 57)

Storm 40

Tries: Brandon Smith (17, 61), Tui Kamikamica (32), Josh Addo-Carr (35), George Jennings (41), Cooper Johns (43), Nicho Hynes (52)

Goals: Nicho Hynes (18, 33, 42, 45, 53, 63)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Nicho Hynes (Melbourne Storm)
2 pts – Brandon Smith (Melbourne Storm)
1 pt – Jahrome Hughes (Melbourne Storm)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

Fresh from a morale-boosting win over the Roosters, the Broncos faced the team with the best record at Suncorp Stadium (the Melbourne Storm) to kick of the NRL Indigenous Round.

It wasn’t the greatest start either, with Albert Kelly losing the ball in the very first tackle of the game. But the Storm didn’t punish them this time.

The opening 10 minutes saw both sides attacking with some good ball movement and offloads, and each side had a decent chance in good territory: the Broncos with a good cross-field kick from Anthony Milford and the Storm getting a repeat set – but both came up short. If anything at this stage the Broncos looked more assured with the ball and Melbourne were a little sloppy, it had to be said.

The Broncos looked up for the game, enthusiastic if you will. Even Milford looked interested. But despite that enthusiasm, they were unable to take advantage of a good back-to-back attacking set when Kelly made his second error of the night. A third error minutes later saw another half-chance go to waste after a dangerous Thomas Flegler offload.

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Melbourne took full advantage the very next set as hooker Brandon Smith scored the first try of the match. The dangerous Nicho Hynes was again jinking and stepping, looking for a way through the Brisbane line when he gave up and offloaded to a waiting Smith who – from a standing start – pierced his way through two Broncos defenders and, once clear, made the 15 metre run to score under the posts. Hynes sealed the play with the conversion and the Storm were ahead 6-0 after 17 minutes.

In a twist of bad luck, Smith left the field with a HIA the next set. Aaron Booth, who has been excellent for Intrust Super Cup side the Easts Tigers for years, got extended NRL time as his replacement.

Melbourne began to look a little more organised with Hynes and Jahrome Hughes looking ever more dangerous, but they were unable to add to their 6-0 lead with 15 minutes to go until half-time.

It was then the Broncos’ turn to pressure in attack not long after; they had three sets in a row deep in Storm territory but were also unable to take advantage.

Melbourne lost their second player to HIA when Tom Eisenhuth left the field after a head clash with his own player attempting a tackle.

After an attacking set that went side-to-side but never looked overly dangerous, Cooper Johns put in a small grubber kick on the last tackle close to the line which got a lucky rebound off Milford; he tried to trap the kick which ended in the arms of the following Tui Kamikamica who scored beside the posts. The conversion made it 12-0 with just over five minutes to half-time.

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Not long after, a shocking Milford pass from dummy half led to another Broncos error and gave the Storm great territory and a full set. Melbourne scored with the next set.

Going to the left the Storm went through Hughes to Johns and then Hynes lurking around the back who sucked in the Broncos defenders and threw the ball to an unmarked Josh Addo-Carr who strolled over for an easy try. Hynes’ first blemish of the night saw him miss the sideline conversion.

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The Broncos’ generosity continued by sending the kick-off over the dead ball line, and the red-hot Hynes almost broke through to score a try himself but the offload went awry.

Brisbane had initially looked the better side in the first half as the Storm looked a little out of sorts in attack, but as the half wore on the Storm took control of the game and the scoreboard and the Broncos’ errors increased. Kevin Walters would need to work some magic at half-time given the 16-0 deficit and the Storm’s brilliant record at Suncorp Stadium.

HALF-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 0 Melbourne Storm 16

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2nd Half

Whatever Walters said at half-time didn’t quite work as Brisbane gifted the Storm another try after a loose pass from Tevita Pangai Jr and a half-hearted attempt to regather on their first attacking set found George Jennings who sped away down the right 30 metres to score untouched. The conversion made it 22-0 just three minutes in the second half. From here it appeared it was not the result but the margin that was to be decided.

The very next set Melbourne extended their lead. Hynes sliced through the left side Broncos defence again and the long (potentially forward) inside pass found Johns who scooted the extra 20 metres to score his first NRL try and give his father a little extra to talk about on his TV show following the game. The Broncos had now conceded 22 points in the 11 minutes either side of half-time.

All was not lost for Brisbane though, as they celebrated a first NRL try scorer of their own as Kobe Hetherington crossed for his first ever try and the Broncos’ first try of the night. The Brisbane forward simply charged onto the ball on the fifth tackle from 10 metres out instead of the ball going for a kick, and coincidentally broke through the tackle of Johns to score. He was accidentally kneed in the face by Jake Turpin as a reward for his first try. The conversion eased the pain, but it was still 28-6 to Melbourne with half-an-hour still to play.

Melbourne extended the lead not long after however, after Smith scooted out of dummy half 20 metres from the Broncos’ line; his pass found Hynes who side-stepped Jamayne Isaako on his way to score under the posts – a fair reward for an outstanding night up until then. Hynes’ conversion made it 34-6 with more than 25 minutes remaining.

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The exchange of tries continued not long after as Brisbane scored their second try of the night. Jesse Arthars was the try scorer from the Broncos as a perfectly weighted grubber from Milford manage to land in the middle of a trio of Storm defenders and Arthars chased best to scoop up the ball and score. Iasaako’s conversion made the score 34-12.

Justin Olam went on report in the 60th minute for a dangerous tackle. Brisbane wasted the opportunity to close the gap by more, and then saw their own player Ethan Bullemor go on report for “Pressure on Neck” giving Melbourne great territory and ball. And it led to another try.

After setting up the last try for Hynes, Smith decided to go one better this time as his scoot from dummy half to the left saw him into space after powering through Keenan Palasia from 10 metres out. The conversion saw the Storm break though the 40 point barrier and the half century looked almost a formality.

Of course, after that bold prediction there were no further points in the last 15 minutes. Not from a lack of trying from Melbourne, who blew a few good chances.

Despite no further points the job was done as ever in Brisbane for the Storm as Melbourne consolidated their position in the top four; the Broncos tried hard but lacked quality.

The Melbourne juggernaut continued at Suncorp Stadium and the 2021 season. Any other side would possibly make more of having their first choice hooker, fullback, and five eighth out, but not Melbourne. When you have the likes of Hynes as the replacement fullback you are in good shape. Hynes did himself no harm by impressing at the ground of a potential playing option for 2022. Smith is still a great hooker too of course.

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For Broncos fans, who are used to losses to the Storm at home, it must be even more frustrating to see such ineptitude at times after the big surprise win in Sydney over the Roosters last weekend. Not that the Broncos weren’t trying – Pangai Jr was again was one the Broncos’ best – but they lacked quality in attack and having a Milford-sized weight around their necks doesn’t help either. Perhaps they have seen the future of their attack in a Melbourne jersey tonight.

FULL-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 12 Melbourne Storm 40

Injuries

Payne Haas (Broncos) – knee

Match Review Committee

Felise Kaufusi (Storm) – Grade 1 Tripping – Early Guilty Plea 1 match ban, Guilty at Judiciary 1 match ban.

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