Another disappointing defeat for the Broncos as they were beaten by the Storm 34 – 20 at Suncorp Stadium.
In terms of the Broncos’ squad for the match, with Nikorima relegated to the bench, on his return from injury, in favour of Bird in the halves, the defensively solid Opacic retained his spot in the centres alongside Roberts. In the second row, Bennett elected to persist with Sims and Glenn despite their poor performance versus the Warriors. In what is starting to become a regular occurrence, Bennett also made a further late change to his starting line up by dropped Pangai Jnr to the bench, from one of the staring prop positions, in favour of the underperforming but experienced Thaiday.
As for the Broncos’ on field performance versus the Storm, the Broncos’ defence were unable to replicate their improved effort versus the Warriors, with 33 missed tackles versus the Storm.
Unfortunately Glenn’s woeful defensive effort this season continued versus the Storm with 6 missed tackles. The much hyped defensive skills of Bird were no where to be seen against the Storm, with the New South Welshman also missing 6 tackles. Lodge, Milford, Isaako and Roberts were also poor defensively with 3 missed tackles each.
Apart from a high number of missed tackles, the Broncos simply couldn’t deal with the Storm’s proficiency at generating offloads, the speed of their centres and wingers and the short kicking game of Munster .
In attack, Ofahengaue (121 metres), McGuire (129 metres and Glenn (128 metres) all contributed quality run metres. While Lodge (98 metres) and Oates (89 metres) were underwhelming in terms of their run metre contribution, Pengai Jnr (75 metres), Su’A (38 metres), Sims (66 metres), Thaiday (54 metres), Opacic (57 metres), Roberts (37 metres) and Isaako (59 metres) were very disappointing.
The repeated lack of run metres from the likes of Opacic, Su’A, Thaiday and Sims in particular and Bennett’s refusal to give opportunities to the likes of Seve, Haas, Fai and Tagatese, who are all excelling in the Intrust Super Cup, is baffling.
In terms of offloads, it was yet another disappointing effort from the Broncos, with only 6 offloads for the match.
The likes of Milford, Bird and Nikorima again demonstrated that they do not possess the creative passing game of traditional halves to generate line breaks through their slight of hand with the ball. That said, all three players are blessed with excellent footwork and acceleration. To accentuate the strengths of Bennett’s preferred halves, the Broncos desperately need to start generating a health number of offloads in each match. By doing so, the Broncos can the create the second phase play and disorganisation in the opposition’s defence which can allow the likes of Milford, Nikorima and Bird (when deployed in the halves) to showcase their strengths and individually break the opposition’s defensive line or take advantage of simpler line break assist opportunities.
The Broncos again failed in that regard versus the Storm. As a consequence, Boyd (0 line breaks and 0 line break assist), Bird (0 line breaks and 0 line break assist), Milford (1 line break and 0 line break assists) and McCullough (0 line breaks and 0 line break assists) struggled to create.
Instead the Broncos’ attack was were very much indebted to moments of individual brilliance from Milford (a grubber kick for himself) and Pengai Jnr (1 line break assist) to keeping the Broncos somewhat competitive against the Storm. That said, relying on individual players to display moments of brilliance match after match in order for their team to score points is an unsustainable attacking strategy.
In terms of the Broncos’ kicking game versus the Storm, there was a further regression on the Broncos’ poor kicking performance in their Round 6 clash versus the Warriors (447 kicking metres and 2 forced drop outs). In total the Broncos only kicked for 341 metres and failed to force a drop out versus the storm, in what was a very disappointing effort.
While Milford tried his best (278 kicking metres) and some of the Broncos’ lack of kicking production versus the Storm can be attributed to the prolonged benching of Nikorima (who had been averaging 112 kicking metres per game in the first 5 rounds), the poor contribution from Bird (3 kicking metres), Boyd (0 kicking metres) and McCullough (50 kicking metes) was again disappointing, It is an aspect of the Broncos’ attacking strategy that needs to drastically improve.
Overall, it was a poor performance from the Broncos versus the Storm. For the Broncos to improve they need to:
If the players Bennett is selecting are demonstrating through their on field performances that they are not able to consistently deliver in those key facets of the game, Bennett needs to show greater objectivity and ruthlessness and start dropping underperforming players. Fortunately for the Broncos they have a slew of both young and experienced members of the squad who have been excelling in the Intrust Super Cup this season. So the opportunity to change and improve is there, it is just a question of whether Bennett is willing to do so and potential compromise his relationship with certain players for the benefit of the Broncos.
The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.nrl.com.