Dylan Jhugroo reviews the 2023 Season of the Brisbane Broncos where they finished second on the ladder.
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The Incredible Broncos Somehow Fall Short
Rugby league is about moments. Those who deserve to be champions are those who stand up in the championship moments. The difficult thing to rationalise for the 2023 Broncos is that they consistently displayed that characteristic, and by my estimation will go down as one of the best sides ever to not win the premiership.
After their woeful late slide out of the top eight last season, the Broncos opened their 2023 campaign by beating the Panthers 13-12 in Penrith, putting the NRL world on notice.
That was the first win of a 5-0 start to the season, that included an 18-12 victory against their new noisy neighbours the Dolphins in front of 50,000 people at Suncorp Stadium. Kotoni Staggs lit the fuse with his ‘This is our house’ try celebration, and a genuine rugby league rivalry was born.
The Broncos did suffer a slump around the middle of the season, losing three of four games from Rounds 9-12 against the in-form Rabbitohs, Storm, and Panthers.
But despite significant unavailabilities through the Origin period, the group galvanized and went on to lose only one more game between that point and the Round 27 loss to Melbourne.
Heavily favoured alongside the Panthers heading into the finals series, Brisbane disposed of the Storm 26-0 in week one, in what was one of the most dominant performances ever put on a Melbourne side.
Having earned the week off, they welcomed a very confident Warriors to Suncorp Stadium in the preliminary final. While the game is likely to be remembered for its controversy, there’s no disputing that the Broncos were the deserved winners, putting a 42-12 scoreline on Andrew Webster’s men.
The consensus leading up to their 2023 Grand Final meeting with Penrith was that it would go down as one of the greatest of all time, and it didn’t disappoint. Ezra Mam stood up on the biggest stage with his incredible hat-trick. Payne Haas put in one of the toughest yardage performances we’ve seen from a prop in a grand final. They dominated a team who are seemingly impossible to dominate.
The Broncos put in a performance deserving of a premiership that night, and but for an unfathomable comeback led by one of the greatest players to ever play our game, they’d be our premiers.
Key Player Stats
Most Try Assists: 26, Reece Walsh
Most Line-breaks: 21, Selwyn Cobbo
Most Run Metres: 4,376, Herbie Farnworth
Most Post Contact Metres: 1,663, Payne Haas
Most Tackles: 758, Pat Carrigan
Most Errors: 53, Reece Walsh (most in NRL)