A much needed, albeit unconvincing, victory for the Broncos as they overcame the Roosters 28– 22 at Suncorp Stadium.
In terms of the Broncos’ squad for the match, with Bird unavailable due to injury and otherwise out of form, Nikorima and Milford retained their respective roles in the halves and Opacic continued to partner Roberts in the centres. Isaako and the impressive Oates were once again deployed on the wings. Despite significantly underperforming this season, the Broncos also persisted with Boyd and McCullough in the fullback and hooking roles. In the second row, the Broncos went with the improving Su’A and the energetic Pangai Junior, with the hardworking and defensively solid Ofahengaue filling the lock role. In the front row, the Broncos persisted with the productive Lodge and underperforming Thaiday. On the bench, the Broncos retained the underperforming Sims and elected to give opportunities to Tagataese, Mago and Staggs, who have all impressed with their performances in the Intrust Super Cup this season.
As for the Broncos’ on field performance versus the Roosters, the Broncos’ defence was again terrible, as the home side amassed 48 missed tackles.
The chief culprits were 9 individual Broncos players who each missed at least 3 tackles (McCullough, Pangai Junior, Su’A, Ofahengaue and Staggs (3), Boyd, Nikorima, Thaiday and Sims (4), and Roberts (5)).
While the vast majority of the team’s defending was deplorable, credit needs to be given to Oates, Isaako, Milford and Lodge, who each only missed 1 tackle for the match, while Tagataese was the lone Bronco not to miss a tackle.
In attack, Pangai Junior (182), Oates (147), Ofahengaue (133), Lodge (131), Roberts (127), Su’A and Isaako (126) were excellent in terms of their contribution to the Broncos’ go forward, amassing well in excess of 100 run metres each. While Opacic only lasted 2 minutes before succumbing to an injury which ended his involvement, and Tagataese and Mago were only afforded 21 and 14 minutes of game time respectively, Sims (91) and Thaiday (79) both underwhelmed with their respective efforts and the production level of Staggs (64) was unacceptable.
The repeated lack of run metres from the likes of Thaiday and Sims in particular, and the nepotism the Broncos have shown in refusing to give opportunities to the likes of Carrigan and Fai, and give increased game time to Tagataese, despite all three players excelling in the Intrust Super Cup, is very disappointing.
In terms of offloads, it was another disappointing effort from the Broncos, with only 9 offloads from their 38 sets for the match.
Ironically, of the 9 offloads the Broncos did manage to make, 1 resulted in a line break and a try to Staggs. The problem with the other 8 offloads the Broncos made, was that the players simply failed to capitalise on the line break opportunities those offloads created.
While the lack of offloads didn’t ultimately prevent the Broncos from scoring points against the Roosters, there are major doubts as to whether the Broncos could repeatedly score tries via a number of those same attacking plays match after match (e.g. a brilliant in and away move from Roberts for Isaako’s try, an amazing length of the field run from Roberts for a try of his own, and a sensational broken play run from Isaako at the death).
In terms of the Broncos’ kicking game versus the Roosters, the Broncos kicked for a total of 460 metres, and executed 6 grubber kicks, from which they forced 1 drop out.
While Milford was an excellent contributor with 364 kicking metres, Nikorima’s 63 kicking metres and 1 forced drop out was underwhelming, and the contribution of Boyd (0 kicking metres and 0 forced drop outs) and McCullough (0 kicking metres and 0 forced drop outs) was unacceptable.
The Broncos over reliance on Milford in terms of their kicking game, makes the Broncos a far less threatening prospect in attack, and is an aspect of the Broncos’ attacking strategy, which Boyd and McCullough, in particular, need to improved their contribution to, if they are to be repeatedly selected in the fullback and hooking role.
Overall, it was an exciting match to watch, largely due to some spectacular tries scored by both sides and both teams’ poor defensive performances.
Whilst an entertaining spectacle, as a Broncos fan who is searching for the team to:
the Broncos performance versus the Roosters was disappointing.
The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.nrl.com.