Webcke breaks duck
by Chris Cox
Saturday June 11, 2005
Prop forward Shane Webcke ended his winless captaincy record as the Broncos scored a gutsy 20-12 win over the Raiders at a sodden Canberra Stadium.
Missing their six Origin representatives and the injured Tonie Carroll and Scott Minto, the Broncos fought gallantly to lead 12-6 at the break, and extend the lead to 20-6 midway through the second half.
Halfback Brett Seymour was sensational leading the side around the park and had a hand in two of the Broncos' three tries.
The Raiders had the better of play early, with the Broncos handing the ball over cheaply and being forced to play the first 20 minutes in their own half. Several times Canberra looked certain to score only to be denied by mistakes and tough Broncos defence. Their best chance came with some frenetic ball play close to the line that put Phil Graham over, however the former Redcliffe flyer lost the ball over the line in the tackle of fullback Karmichael Hunt.
The Broncos finally got some attacking possession and made the most of it, with Seymour running to the line and beating the tackle of Lincoln Withers before offloading to David Stagg who scored under the posts. Seymour converted for a 6-0 lead.
The Raiders hit back quickly when a second man play opened up a massive gap for fullback Clinton Schifcofske to score. He converted to level the scores at 6-all.
However, in the dying moments of the first half the Broncos put their noses back in front with a freakish try. The Broncos attacked the blind side and Brent Tate found space. However, while trying to change hands to offload to Bott he lost the ball, but had the presence of mind to get his toe to it. The ball went in goal and Bott won the race to the ball. Video referee Phil Cooley gave Bott the benefit of the doubt on the grounding and the Broncos led 10-6.
Seymour's sideline conversion was crucial and gave Brisbane a 6-point first half lead.
The Broncos made a mistake from the kick off and Canberra had an opportunity. However, after a repeat set, the Broncos held firm. They continued to make mistakes and Canberra peppered Bott with kicks. They tried their hand once too often with a bomb which came back to Bott who charged up field.
With just Schifcofske to beat, Bott kicked the ball in field and Schifcofske went through with the tackle, earning an unlucky penalty. Seymour landed the goal for a crucial 8-point lead.
The Broncos kept taking their chances and the lead extended to 14 points when Darren Smith charged onto a Seymour short ball 20 metres out and beat the defence to score out wide. Seymour again converted for a 20-6 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Canberra continued to attack but everytime they were denied by mistakes forced by desperate Broncos defence. Brisbane meanwhile controlled the game with deep kicks from Seymour and Hunt pinning the Raiders close to their own line.
However, on a rare repeat set with 8 minutes left, Raiders back rower Matt Adamson crashed over out wide, and Schifcofske's quickfire conversion reduced the margin to just 8 points.
From the kick off Adamson created another opportunity with a hard run and an offload, but the ball was fumbled and let the Broncos off the hook. Neville Costigan looked to go over for the match sealer, but Archer ruled the pass forward.
It mattered little as the Broncos tightened the screws and sealed an invaluable victory.
The win takes the Broncos' winning streak at Canberra to 4 games since 2002, which is remarkable given they could hardly buy a win at the ground in the 1990s when they were at their best. It also takes their winning streak this season to 9 games, and, pending the result in the Souths-Manly game, leaves them 4 points clear at the top of the ladder. A brilliant position midway through the testing Origin period.
It was a great team effort from Brisbane. Everybody contributed, and under pressure they held firm. Webcke led by example. He was punished by the Raiders defence several times and made an early blunder, but he kept coming every second he was out there. Seymour was magnificent at halfback, filling the void Lockyer left by taking over the role as chief organiser and playmaker to perfection.
Karmichael Hunt also took a greater role with the ball, and his kicking game in particular was outstanding, keeping the Raiders on the back foot and providing an alternative to Seymour. Corey Parker, David Stagg and Darren Smith were ever reliable up front, while Neville Costigan had a mixed game. In defence he was magnificent, hitting hard and often to keep Canberra under pressure. However, he simply couldn't hold the ball, making 4 handling errors.
Berrick Barnes had a solid run on debut, replacing Stu Kelly who moved back to the bench, but was left to play a supporting role to Seymour. Steve Michaels had an eventful debut, making a couple of errors but playing solidly. Justin Hodges and Brent Tate played well in the centres, but Tate put a scare through the camp with an ankle injury during the second half but should be OK. Bott was fantastic on the wing and is growing with every game.
Canberra didn't play badly but they simply couldn't control possession enough to turn opportunity into points. Adamson was strong in the second half, but his hard running was missed in the first half. Terry Campese's kicking game was great in the first half but that area of Canberra's game fell away badly in the second half.
The Broncos play Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday night in the hopes of putting their winning run into double figures and go a step closer to assuring a top 2 finish for the finals.