Broncos must learn the lessons from their season-opening loss to Melbourne
March 15, 2019
To beat the best, you have to learn from the best.
Just 80 minutes into Brisbane’s new era under Anthony Seibold, the Broncos were taught some valuable lessons by Melbourne, the NRL’s most consistent juggernaut of the past decade.
There’s no need for Brisbane to hit panic buttons after their season-opening 22-12 loss to the Storm at AAMI Park.
Premierships are never won in March. But cultural benchmarks and standards of consistency are built from the earliest weeks of a premiership campaign.
When the Storm came into the NRL in 1998, they built their bedrock on the title-winning might of the Broncos.
Now Seibold’s Broncos would do well to replicate the professionalism, work ethic and clinical consistency of Craig Bellamy’s Storm troopers.
I admired the grit and tenacity of the Broncos on Thursday night. They could have easily trailed 20-0 at halftime. That they bridged the deficit to 16-12 with 12 minutes to play was a tribute to the effort levels of Brisbane’s squad.
But there comes a time where execution must intersect with effort.
For the Broncos to be a genuine title contender this season, they need to start making better decisions play by play and set by set.
It must be underpinned by a dominant forward pack that must hunt as a collective, creating a platform for their halves to operate with quality ball.
Five-eighth Anthony Milford looked underdone, which is understandable considering he didn’t play in the trials due to a hamstring injury. His scrumbase partner Kodi Nikorima was a victim of Brisbane’s midfield mauling.
Both Nikorima and Milford must learn from the Storm’s tactical kicking. Play to the corners. Put the ball deep. Then back your kick chase to turn the screws.
The man who felt the full force of Melbourne’s sustained pressure was Broncos skipper Darius Boyd.
While Billy Slater’s successor Jahrome Hughes was magnificent in the Storm No.1 jumper, Boyd had a tough night at the office.
As captain, Boyd is critical to the Broncos’ success this season. Many of Brisbane’s younger players will be looking to his experience and leadership. He must be better for this Friday night’s Queensland derby against the Cowboys.
Boyd has been a wonderful player for 12 years. I have great admiration for his longevity and achievements in the game. It is why, in a youthful Broncos side this season, Brisbane need their leader more than ever.
I’m sure Darius would like to have his time again with his defensive decision to drop off Jesse Bromwich in the 68th minute try when Brisbane’s cover defenders were closing. Bromwich’s dummy and subsequent try finally put the Broncos to bed.
I thought Boyd made some brave efforts, including one fine clean-up of a grubber, but a few times he was slow to the ball and caught off-guard by well-placed kicks on the edges.
Involvement is not an issue for Boyd, but his positional play needs some more urgency and he can benefit from adding some variety to his game.
The most effective fullbacks in today’s game are always busy, talking, pushing up off the ball and trailing their forwards around the ruck.
James Tedesco, Kalyn Ponga and Cronulla’s Valentine Holmes, before his defection to American football, are examples of fullbacks who lurk with intent in midfield.
Darius is outstanding in try-scoring three-on-two situations, but I’d like to see him pushing up around the rucks and being ready to capitalise on the work of his forwards.
His support play can be a real asset.
But it’s also imperative that Brisbane’s front six deliver some authority in the middle of the park. They will face the Cowboys’ Big Three of Matt Scott, Jordan McLean and Jason Taumalolo this week, so this is a good opportunity for Brisbane’s young forwards to stand up and be counted.
I don’t know if the Broncos’ first-up defeat was a reality check, but it’s certainly an eye-opener of the quality Brisbane will encounter this year and the standards they must meet to beat the big guns like Melbourne and the Roosters.
Source: Courier Mail