Broncos mauled by Panthers
Saturday September 04, 2004

Broncos mauled by Panthers


The Brisbane Broncos have completed one of their worst runs into a finals series in their sixteen year history, with a heavy loss to the Penrith Panthers. The Broncos were physically blown away by the Panthers with an intimidating score line forty six points to twenty, the Broncos have a lot of soul searching to do before next weeks home final.


With a scrappy draw over wooden spoon contenders; South Sydney, and a come from behind win against the Wests Tigers, tonight was a chance for the Broncos to turn their form around heading into the play-offs. Unfortunately the exact opposite happened; the Broncos defence crumbled against aggressive running forwards and quick plays the balls. The Broncos missed approximately one hundred tackles and only managed 5 line breaks.


Brisbane didn’t get off to the best of starts with Carl Webb and Craig Gower involved in a nasty head clash after taking a blind-side run. Carl Webb left the field and didn’t return while Gower stayed on and directed his team beautifully around the park. From that point on, the Broncos lacked any real intensity and enthusiasm. At the end of that set, Casey McGuire put a neat little grubber through, only to watch Rhys Wesser scooping it up and running thirty meters without any of the chasers laying a hand on him.


Penrith then started up the engine room, John Lang and Joel Clinton hitting it up the middle, while Joe Gulavo and Trent Waterhouse hitting the edges. They were able to play the ball quickly and the Broncos were finding it hard to gain authority in the ruck.


From the next set of six, Wesser placed a little grubber behind the line which Karmichael Hunt had covered, but took too long to pick it up, and as he went down with the ball it popped out and straight into Amos Roberts’ hands for a gift four pointer. Ryan Girdler, making his final regular NRL game added the extras with ease.


The Broncos started to lose touch with the match for the next ten minutes; they were giving away frequent penalties as an attempt to slow the play the ball down, and Gorden Tallis having a running battle against referee Paul Simpkins. And as tempers flared, a penalty directly in front of the Broncos goal was awarded. Girdler made easy work of that penalty lifting the Panthers eight points to nil. The Panthers were taking Brisbane seriously at that point in the game: electing to go for a penalty goal, but as the game progressed their respect for the Broncos defence dropped and they scored at will.


But that’s when the Broncos are at their most dangerous. After surviving numerous attacking raids from the Panthers, Brad Meyers popped a little offload to McGuire, who fired the ball out wide to Ben Ikin and put Dane Carlaw through a gap. Carlaw drew his defender in and popped a nicely timed pass to a flying Gary Tupou scoring in the corner. Corey Parker again made strong claims for a permanent kicking job next year after landing a difficult side line conversion.


The Broncos were back eight points to six, only to see Waterhouse stroll through some ordinary goal line defence after Ikin had committed to the decoy runner; Gulavo. Girdler landed the conversion to stretch the lead fourteen to six. Missed tackles were costing the Broncos heavily throughout the game, but it was the performance of players like Hunt which worries a lot of supporters, Gower put up a huge bomb with Hunt and Stu Kelly both leaving it to bounce directly into Gowers arms who strolled under the posts. Five minutes later Luke Lewis positioned himself on the outside of Tupou going in out wide, and the score had suddenly grown twenty six to six.


The Broncos seemed to have no answers to the Panthers, launching attacking raid after raid with no result. Enter Gary Tupou, a giant Kiwi winger. Carlaw again made a break, giving a neatly weighted pass to Tupou who raced outside his man and had the fullback Roberts to beat. He looked inside to his support, but he was covered by Luke Priddis, Tupou decided to go over the top of Roberts and shrug away Priddis. It was a try that was reminiscent of Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuquiri efforts close to the line. It put the Broncos back into the game with Parker again nailing a sideline conversion to take the scores to twenty six to twelve.


From the next set of six, Petero Civoniceva was taken high in a tackle that didn’t even deserve a look from the match review committee, but was given a penalty by Simpkins and Parker landed the penalty to reduce the score to twenty six to fourteen.


Half time sounded, and at two converted trys down the Broncos had grinded their way back into the game, but half time ended their revival. The Panthers came out in the second half to finish the job they started. There was little joy for the Broncos in the second half, with Neville Costigan darting over from dummy half and a conversion from Parker the only points the Broncos could manage for forty minutes. The Panthers played extremely well, completed their sets and controlled the ball.


Overall the match has no bearing on which position the Broncos will finish on the ladder, but the amount of missed tackles, lack of intensity and enthusiasm from the team is extremely worrying a week from the finals. The senior players lost the plot a little after half time, with Webcke, Tallis, Ikin, and Civoniceva all making uncharacteristic errors in their own half. Silly errors such as pushing the pass or dropping the pass allowed the Panthers an easy ride into the Broncos half with a mountain of possession.


If a positive can be found out of the match tonight, it has to be Gary Tupou. Tupou made more hit-ups than any of the forwards, scored two trys and was dangerous every time he touched the ball. But the thing that impressed me most was his enthusiasm; he came in and took rucks at will, returned the ball with solid penetration and was a contributor to all but one of the Broncos trys.


Next week the Broncos will welcome back Darren Lockyer, Tonie Carroll, Craig Frawley and Shaun Berrigan. Will it be enough to get the Broncos over the line next week?

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