Sam Thaiday of the Broncos. Photo: AAP
Sam Thaiday of the Broncos. Photo: AAP

‘Wayne will go’: Fallout from Broncos’ defeat

THE Courier-Mail's Paul Malone lists his likes and dislikes from the weekend's NRL action.

DISLIKES

1. TACKLING ISSUES

THE Broncos were the seventh-best defensive team in the regular season and tackled like it on Sunday.

The gritty try-line defence of their 2015 campaign is a distant memory. Line speed was missing when defending their try line in the biggest game of the season yesterday, as was sustained force in their shots.

 

Broncos players Jamayne Isaako, Korbin Sims and Anthony Milford are dejected. Photo: AAP
Broncos players Jamayne Isaako, Korbin Sims and Anthony Milford are dejected. Photo: AAP

 

The Dragons are not the Harlem Globetrotters of rugby league, but have scored 82 points in two matches against the Broncos in Brisbane's first and last games of the campaign.

If defence is the barometer of attitude in league, then scores conceded of 34 (to the Cowboys), 36 (to the Bulldogs) and 38 (to the Sea Eagles) also said plenty about the consistency in motivation among the Broncos players.

2. WAYNE WILL GO

THREE years without a grand final spot means Wayne Bennett does not have a case anymore to have an extended contract at the Broncos.

 

Broncos coach Wayne Bennett during the post-match press conference. Photo: Liam Kidston.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett during the post-match press conference. Photo: Liam Kidston.

 

A 48-18 demolition by the Dragons on their home ground to terminate their season ensured the Broncos will have a new coach in 2020.

While he is likely to find a job for 2020, by which stage he will be aged 70, whether it's a team he wants to coach will depend on which coaches are first jolted loose in 2019.

 

3. MILF'S MISTAKE

IN recent weeks, Bennett has had a routine going when reporters have asked him about Anthony Milford's better playmaking form.

Bennett reminded reporters that plenty of us had said Milford wasn't the player yet to be a well-paid NRL playmaker.

Milford kicked well, both long and short, in the last five or six weeks but his first-half turnover when the Broncos trailed the Dragons by 10 points was a momentum killer.

4. LATRELL'S LAPSE

LATRELL Mitchell would get what he deserves if he is suspended from the Roosters' preliminary final after he was charged by the match review committee for a crusher tackle on Sharks opposite number Josh Dugan.

Latrell Mitchell of the Roosters. Photo: Getty Images
Latrell Mitchell of the Roosters. Photo: Getty Images

Mitchell's 75 carry-over points from a cannonball tackle on Eel Clint Gutherson could prove costly when added to his needless grapple with Dugan on Saturday night.

League traditionalists might say it's too harsh an outcome considering it's a preliminary final, but the NRL must maintain its mission against attacks on the necks of ball-carriers.

5. NO TALK ON REFS

WE got through week one of the finals without an industrial-scale refereeing dispute.

Melbourne were unhappy with two calls in particular but managed the 29-28 win on Friday night despite being behind Souths with six minutes left.

Only Rabbitohs fans would have seen a forward pass in Josh Addo-Carr's delivery to Billy Slater.

 

LIKES

1. TEEN SENSATION

BRONCOS fans who are glass half-full types will take some heart from 18-year-old David Fifita's finals debut.

David Fifita of the Broncos in action against the Dragons. Photo: AAP
David Fifita of the Broncos in action against the Dragons. Photo: AAP

The left-edge forward, called one of the game's looming stars by Andrew Johns in television commentary, tackled cleanly in his defensive 20m at a time when his more experienced teammates were grasping and grappling.

Fifita, Payne Haas, Joe Ofahengaue and Tevita Pangai Jr will be some quartet of forwards in 2020 and 2021.

2. LEAGUE CENTRAL

BRONCOS and Dragons fans saved the blushes of NRL bosses, if they cared about crowds, with a 47,296 turnout at Suncorp Stadium yesterday.

It was more than the turnout at Sydney's two finals matches of the week, 24,588 at the Roosters-Sharks match at Allianz Stadium and just 17,306 at ANZ Stadium when neither the Panthers nor the Warriors could be called the home team.

For all the hosannas about how the Storm have gained a robust boutique following in Melbourne, only 17,306 went to AAMI Park on the night that the AFL had the first of two 90,000-plus attendances over the road at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Both games in week two of the finals are in Sydney, with the clash of traditional rivals Souths and St George Illawarra the more engaging.

3. TARIQ HITS SPOT

WINNERS can please themselves and a merry Tariq Sims had a broad grin in the closing minutes of the match as he goaded Bronco Pangai Jr.

Tariq Sims celebrates the Dragons’ win. Photo: AAP
Tariq Sims celebrates the Dragons’ win. Photo: AAP

After an exchange, Sims ­directed Pangai's attention to the scoreline of the video screen.

Sims and Pangai will have years of full-throttle exchanges ahead of them, and perhaps be on plenty of NSW Origin teams together if the Bronco decides he wants to nominate Australia as his tier-one international choice.

4. SOLDIER ON

ATTRITION often decides rugby league winners and losers and both the Dragons and Rabbitohs will be operating with key players either needled up or ruled out of their semi-final on Saturday night.

Souths insiders say skipper Greg Inglis (ribs) and halfback Adam Reynolds(shoulder) will be able to play, despite their souvenirs from a brutal battle against the Storm.

Roosters and Souths have split their games this season.

5. CAM'S THE MAN

I EXPECTED Cameron Munster to be a bigger factor than he was in his first complete State of Origin series, but there is no mistaking how he is bossing the countdown to the grand final.

Cameron Munster of the Storm celebrates kicking a drop goal during the NRL Qualifying Final against the Rabbitohs. Photo: Getty Images
Cameron Munster of the Storm celebrates kicking a drop goal during the NRL Qualifying Final against the Rabbitohs. Photo: Getty Images

Munster's winning, mishit field goal was a little reminiscent of Johnathan Thurston's wonky one-pointer in the 2015 grand final and his running has been a nightmare for every right-side defence in the competition.



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