Thursday night’s game saw the Broncos thrashed at home by the Parramatta Eels in a big result for the top eight.
Parramatta Eels 53
Tries: Tom Opacic 2 (16, 77), Clint Gutherson 2 (18, 36), Maika Sivo (10), Mitchell Moses (26), Isaiah Papali’i (65), Will Penisini (68), Waqa Blake (79)
Goals: Mitchell Moses 8 (11, 17, 20, 28, 38, 67, 70, 80)
One-Point Field Goals: Mitchell Moses (39)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
The Brisbane Broncos’ finals aspirations took a huge hit on Thursday night as they were thrashed at home by the Parramatta Eels, who gave themselves are real chance of finishing in the top four.
It was a decent start from both sides, with end-to-end action interspersed with penalties and two failed challenges within the first seven minutes. The Broncos had the better chances but failed to convert and were punished for that in the 11th minute.
Winger Maika Sivo made it 11 tries in 11 games this season, but involved a lot of his teammates in the process, with some fine offloads from Shaun Lane and Clint Gutherson before Junior Paulo threw the final pass to Sivo. Moses converted for a 6-0 lead. Adam Reynolds left the field injured not long after: it ended in a failed HIA and he did not return.
Not long after Ezra Mam pounced on a loose ball and looked to run away and score but the play broke down, then featured a little pinball as the ball went through five or six players in three seconds.
The Eels extended the lead not long after when a fine cut-out pass from Shaun Lane on the 40 metre line found Sivo in space, who then kicked infield and Tom Opacic – who wrestled the ball to the line with three Broncos tacklers. Parramatta were now 12-0 up and the Broncos were still without their star halfback. The follow-up kick-off going too long had the markings of a 2020-21 Broncos white flag coming.
Parramatta scored with the next set through Gutherson. In the very next play after Shaun Lane had been held up on the right, the Eels shifted it left and Gutherson just held onto the ball to score. Moses converted to make it 18-0.
The carve-up continued in the 27th minute as Moses set up his own try with a blind-side run and pass to Waqa Blake and was on hand for the ball back inside from the winger to score with ease. He converted his own try for 24-0.
The Broncos stopped the avalanche of points with their first try of the match straight after, being gifted the ball when the Eels threw a forward pass from the kick-off return. From the ensuing scrum Brisbane went left through Mam and Te Maire Martin to Brenko Lee who scored with ease. Kotoni Staggs converted to make it 24-6.
The good times didn’t last long for Brisbane as Parramatta scored a few minutes before the break. Shaun Lane powered through the Broncos’ line from 30 metres out – fed by a Dylan Brown pass – and Gutherson was on hand for the offload to score his second try of the night. For safety reasons Moses slotted a field goal just before the break to make the half-time score 31-6. Considering the home side conceded 60 points last weekend, they were on track to concede a double 60, which sounds more like a darts score than a rugby league one.
Brisbane were a lot more competitive in the second half, and it was a little scrappy at times with more points taking a long time to come, but they eventually arrived for the Eels courtesy of Isaiah Papali’i who burrowed his way over from dummy half after Parramatta had multiple sets inside the Broncos’ 20 metre zone. Moses converted to extend the score to 37-6.
The Eels went back-to-back and extended their lead to 43-6 as Will Penisini scooped up the loose ball from a Dylan Brown cross-field kick.
Parramatta added extra salt for the Broncos just before full-time when Tom Opacic scored his second of the night, this time courtesy of a dummy then a glorious grubber from Gutherson. Moses missed his first conversion of the night, but it mattered little.
And the Eels weren’t done there, as Waqa Blake crossed for the final try of the night with 20 seconds to go, which meant the Broncos had conceded 50 points at home a week after conceding 60 to Melbourne.
Parramatta looked sharp for large periods of the game and are giving themselves a real chance of finishing inside the top four, which – given their record against Penrith over the past few seasons – could make for a cracking clash in the first week of the finals if it happens.
For Brisbane it was another tough night at home to a top eight side: they lost Adam Reynolds early to injury, and Tom Flegler, Kobe Hetherington, and Zac Hosking during the contest, but in reality all were probably unlikely to have made a match-winning difference given the form of the Eels. That being said, at least Ezra Mam stepped up for Brisbane without Reynolds and was their best, continuing one of the Broncos’ good news stories for 2022. The size of the loss though will hurt, as they have now opened the door for Canberra to steal their top eight spot on points difference (as long as they beat Manly Warringah on Saturday).
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Shaun Lane (Eels), 2 pts – Clint Gutherson (Eels), 1 pt – Mitchell Moses (Eels)
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