Friday, April 16, 2021

NRL News | ‘Sweet’ Brisbane Broncos on display as top teams shine

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NRL great PAUL GALLEN will appear on Nine’s 100% FOOTY on Monday night, debating rugby league’s hottest topics alongside Phil Gould and James Bracey. Tune in from 10:20 p.m. AEDT, after all the action from round two!

The best teams in the NRL stamped their class at the start of this competition.

Penrith held his opposition aimlessly again. Not letting the other team score for two straight weeks in the NRL is pretty impressive.

Especially for a team which is still rightly regarded as a young team. Last week I noticed how patient they were to beat the Cowboys and it was there again in wet conditions against the Bulldogs.

It’s still early days, but the signs are there that they may go deep into the final again. Potentially, having Nathan Cleary this weekend could be revealing – but then again, they have Matt Burton to call if he’s missing. Depth in key positions is key, and it’s obvious the Panthers didn’t want to let Burton make it to Canterbury early.

Penrith are a quality team and by all reports they have been training really hard in the offseason. As we saw last year with Melbourne Storm, the team that can maintain their standards during times when they are not playing matches are most likely to continue and win the competition.

Melbourne finished nearly 80% in Thursday night’s narrow loss to Parramatta, despite pouring rain at Bankwest Stadium. Credit to the eels they completed at 88 percent.

Newcastle showed some courage to come from behind in another drenched game against the Warriors. Bradman Best was absolutely exceptional with two trials; it’s hard to believe he’s still only 19, with his size, speed and power.

The Rabbitohs rebounded quickly to beat Manly, with every player in their spine scoring a try. They also showed character, having lost Adam Reynolds and Jaxson Paulo to the hands of the HIA.

The roosters put on a show against West Tigers and wins by 34 points. I thought Daine Laurie provided some nice back footwork for the Tigers, but other than that it was all the Roosters at Campbelltown.

While not everyone is convinced he can win the competition this year, for me the Roosters have become like Melbourne. They will always be there and pretty much.

They’ve won those back-to-back premieres, they obviously ran out of steam last year. The question is, can they maintain these long-standing standards?

They have a great coaching staff and a strong crop of senior players, although the best of them when it comes to standards of conduct – Boyd Cordner – is currently not playing. He would do a lot of work off the pitch in that regard.

You can’t blame the early signs, despite how many players they are missing.

Hooker has been a constant problem for them, with Jake Friend injured again and Sam Verrills still out this weekend. Angus Crichton was suspended for Sunday’s game and they have yet to get Victor Radley back – but they still won two games impressively.

Roosters have excelled in building tremendous depth during this fruitful time. Just think: Sam Walker and Joseph Suaalii are still waiting backstage.

Walker was definitely set to play on Sunday, Trent Robinson said ahead of the game. Suaalii is also on the sidelines and by all reports is an exceptional talent.

Senior teams develop depth and combine their young talents with an experienced core.

At Brisbane Broncos, we see the opposite.

The great shatter the woes of the Broncos

I thought they showed some resilience in the first round and for the first 20 minutes against the Titans they weren’t too bad. They really looked like they wanted to work for each other in defense; their jamming defense was unreal.

Then all of a sudden they left a really sweet try that just shouldn’t have been scored … and then they fell apart. There were several more tries conceded and to be fair the defense just wasn’t the top-notch standard.

You don’t want to kick a team when they’re down, but this Broncos team just can’t keep that heart and resilience for 80 minutes.

They just don’t have a lot of resilience on this team. There is nothing else you can say when they continue to leave smooth tries.

David Fifita is a powerhouse, as we know, but they let him in for two smooth tries. He scored the first and last of four consecutive tries for the Titans; Brisbane has let the opposition score four straight tries in both games so far, which you just can’t do if you want to win.

Anthony Milford is what happens at the Broncos.

I was sitting next to Billy Slater when Milford had a run at the start of the Titans game. Billy and I both said it – “big race” – as he took the lead and went about 15 yards.

But then he threw a silly unload for a turnover. It was like that putting him in a hole and he just couldn’t get out of it.

Milford was not seen for the remainder of the game. Brodie Croft barely touched the ball either.

Brisbane is such a “trusted team”; as soon as things don’t go well for them, they fall into a pile.

The argument that Brisbane is a young team has faded. Those two guys I just mentioned – Milford and Croft – aren’t young anymore. Milford could reach 200 games in the NRL later this season and he’s got plenty of money.

The apologies are over. They still have some good players to come back to their side, like Payne Haas and Kotoni Staggs, who will hopefully strengthen them, but we’re talking about freshmen here.

You have to be real. If you are selected in the first year, you have to do a job. These aren’t guys running around the reserves just to try their luck. This is the NRL and we are talking about the richest and most powerful club in the game.

In fact, I picked Brisbane to win this weekend. I thought I saw signs of life in the first round against Parramatta, which they could wear in the second round.

I thought the Broncos and Titans were pretty evenly suited and Milford and Croft could get it over the Gold Coast halves Ash Taylor and Jamal Fogarty. Yet the Brisbane halves just didn’t guide them through the park.

There is no silver bullet in this game. Only hard work and dedication will fix what is happening in Brisbane.

They showed something in the first round. They showed a lot of the same during the first 20 minutes of the second round.

Now it’s time to show it off for 80 minutes. No excuses. Do that, and they’ll end up in matches again, rather than adding to a 13-game losing streak.

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