A rejuvenated Pat Carrigan, the arrival of Selwyn Cobbo and an opportunistic Kurt Capewell has shot Brisbane to a season-opening NRL win over a disappointing South Sydney.
The Broncos won 11-4 at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, despite the absence of star recruit and former Rabbitohs captain Adam Reynolds due to COVID-19.
The hosts led 6-4 at the break, Corey Oates’ diving effort in the corner creating a buffer before backrower and captain Capewell slotted a field goal from broken play.
Back from a 2021 ACL tear, Carrigan (145 run metres) showed extra pace, footwork and an offload to complement his proven workrate to set the platform alongside Payne Haas (168m).
And 19-year-old winger Cobbo was electric down the right flank, while Penrith recruit and captain Capewell steadied the defence of a side that has struggled to protect their own line as they finished 14th and last in their previous two seasons.
Albert Kelly scored an 80 metre intercept try and was lively in the halves alongside coach Kevin Walters’ son Billy, even if they didn’t make the most of their platform laid by forward-pack dominance and regular Rabbitohs errors.
The visitors, who lost the grand final in their last trip to Brisbane, were poor as they began life without Reynolds, Dane Gagai and coach Wayne Bennett.
Reynolds’ replacement Lachlan Elias struggled to have an impact, barely running the ball in the first half and watching passes hit the deck or find Brisbane hands in the second.
Five-eighth Cody Walker threw the intercept for Kelly’s try and their usually incisive edges couldn’t penetrate despite many opportunities to level the scores.
Oates’ four-pointer came from a sloppy play-the-ball penalty, Souths’ second half riddled by unforced errors in their own half that would have frustrated Jason Demetriou in his head coaching debut.
Brisbane should have scored twice more in the first half, Kelly mistiming his support run after Cobbo sensationally swerved to beat two down the sideline.
A slight forward pass saw that try called back, while Cobbo then put a foot out as he dived for a try of his own.
Some scrambling defence ensured they kept their noses ahead though, before Capewell’s pure strike killed off Souths’ hopes.
Rabbitohs prop Tevita Tatola was placed on report in the 69th minute for a high tackle on Broncos hooker Jake Turpin.