Match Review: Broncos vs Eels

Another unconvincing victory for the Broncos, as they triumphed 18– 10 against an unlucky Parramatta Eels side at Suncorp Stadium.

In terms of the Broncos’ squad for the match, Nikorima and Milford continued their respective roles in the halves, despite both players underperforming this season. In the outside backs, Kahu, who was cleared to play again after suffering a broken jaw in round 1, partnered Roberts in the centres, with Isaako and the consistently impressive Oates, 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 again 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 handed a richly deserved debut to Fai, and for the second week in a row, gave 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 41 missed tackles.

Defence

The chief culprits were 7 individual Broncos players who each missed at least 3 tackles (Ofahengaue (3), Kahu, Milford, Thaiday and Su’A (4), Lodge (5) and Pangai Junior (6)).

While a good portion of the team’s defending was unacceptable, credit needs to be given to Isaako, Nikorima, and Mago who each only missed 1 tackle for the match, while Tagataese, Staggs and Fai did not miss a tackle.

In attack, Oates (248), Lodge (190), Pangai Junior (173), Ofahengaue (136), Su’A (136) and Kahu (116) were excellent in terms of their contribution to the Broncos’ go forward, amassing well in excess of 100 run metres each. While Tagataese, Staggs, Mago and Fai were only afforded 22, 20, 20 and 14 minutes of game time respectively, Isaako (99) underwhelmed, and the production level of Roberts (74) and Thaiday (70) was unacceptable.

Running

The repeated lack of run metres from the likes of Thaiday and Roberts and Isaako and the nepotism the Broncos have shown in refusing to give opportunities to the likes of Shibasaki, Seve and Carrigan, and give increased game time to Tagataese and Fai, despite all five players excelling in the Intrust Super Cup, is very disappointing.

In terms of offloads, it was another disappointing effort from the Broncos, with only 4 offloads from their 37 sets for the match.

Passing

Once again, the problem with the 4 offloads the Broncos did make, was that the players simply failed to capitalise on the line break opportunities those offloads created.

That is:

  • McCullough, who was often the recipient of the offloads, failed to subsequently challenge the opposition’s defensive line;
  • Milford, Nikorima and Boyd didn’t get close enough to the ruck to take receipt of the offloads and attempt to break the line with their speed and footwork;
  • following the offloads, the Broncos failed to quickly shift the ball laterally to give their centres and wingers the opportunity to break the opposition’s stretched defence.

The lack of offloads and Broncos’ inability to capitalise on the offloads they made, kept the Eels in the contest throughout, as the Broncos spine struggled to create (only 1 line break assist from Nikorima).

In terms of the Broncos’ kicking game versus the Eels, the Broncos kicked for a whopping 774 metres, but only executed 4 grubber kicks, from which they failed to force a drop out.

Kicking

While the contribution of Boyd (0 kicking metres and 0 grubber kicks) was again unacceptable, Milford (490 kicking metres and 2 grubbed kicks) and Nikorima (174 kicking metres and 1 grubber kick) were excellent, and McCullough (88 kicking metres and 0 grubber kicks) delivered his best kicking performance of the season.

Reducing the Broncos over reliance on Milford in terms of their kicking game, makes the Broncos a far more threatening prospect in attack. While Boyd and McCullough, in particular, need to improved their kicking contribution, if they are to be repeatedly selected in the fullback and hooking role, Nikorima’s kicking contribution versus the Eels, as Milford’s halves partner, was very impressive.

Overall, it was an engrossing match to watch, largely due to both teams’ poor defensive performances and both teams’ poor attack, keeping the contest competitive until close to the final whistle

That said, as a Broncos fan who is searching for the team to:

  • employ an attacking style which both plays to the strengths of its key playmakers and is able to regularly generate line break and line break assist opportunities; and
  • consistently demonstrate a certain level of resistance in defence (no player with more than 2 missed tackles per match);

the Broncos performance versus the Eels was another disappointing effort from the Brisbane club.

Freddie08

The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from http://www.nrl.com.

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