The Brisbane Broncos survived a final Canterbury onslaught to run out winners 16-10 at Sydney’s Accor Stadium, giving them back-to-back victories to start their 2022 NRL season.
With only a converted try being the difference, Broncos coach Kevin Walters admitted his side “had a bit of luck” with the bunker not over-ruling Herbie Farnworth’s four-pointer in the 64th minute when it appeared winger Corey Oates had obstructed defenders.
“We’ll take that one. It could have gone the other way but we lost a couple (of tries) tonight so I think it balances out in the end,” Walters said.
Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett was a little more hot under the collar about Oates’ contact in the defensive line.
“That’ll be something we need to get some answers on. I don’t coach the players to lie down but maybe I will now,” he said.
“It’s in the rule book that you can’t do it (obstruct defenders) and it cost us badly. But outside of that we still had a lot of chances to win the game.”
Barrett praised new recruit Matt Burton, who made 13 runs for 105 metres and 12 kicks for 421, as one of his stars.
“He gets us into good field position with his kicking and he’s only going to get better and better. As they all keep turning up with that grit and resolve we’ll win those games.”
For Brisbane, they started the 2020 NRL season with two straight wins but they ended up with the wooden spoon that year.
However it’s a different coach now with Kevin Walters, an invigorated forward pack, and a new halfback in Adam Reynolds who steered his side around what used to be his old home ground with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
“Defence won it for us. It means the guys are really working hard for each other -there’s a real care factor out there that we haven’t seen at this club for a while,” Walters said.
“It makes me as a coach really proud that they’re a tight group and they’re showing up for each other … particularly our goal-line defence which in the past hasn’t been so great.”
The Bulldogs had repeat sets on the Broncos line in the final four minutes and the Brisbane side stood steadfast.
Former Bronco Tevita Pangai Junior wasted no time in reacquainting himself with his old teammates.
But he overstepped the mark with a late tackle on Reynolds in just the second minute with referee Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski placing him on report.
Scores were locked up 4-4 at halftime and then again at 10-10 with less than 20 minutes to play.
The home side were the first to score off an error by Broncos fullback Testi Niu in the 10th minutes.
He dropped Burton bomb cold, with the Bulldogs centre Braidon Burns scoring in the right corner in the next set.
The Broncos replied five minutes later with a beautiful low-trajectory kick by Albert Kelly finding the welcoming hands of Corey Oates.
That was Oates’ 100th try for the Brisbane club, becoming the sixth man to reach the century.
It was the same in the second half – the Bulldogs scoring first when hooker Jeremy Marshall-King slipped through from dummy-half, before Farnworth scored his first after a one-one-one strip.
His second sealed the deal.