Adam Reynolds has channelled Allan Langer as Brisbane turned back the clock with a historic 38-0 thrashing of Manly.
Exactly one year ago Reynolds arrived in Brisbane for the NRL’s Magic Round with South Sydney, almost miserably explaining why he had chosen the long-term security of the Broncos over a one-year extension at his childhood club.
On Friday any misery was a distant memory, the captain as delighted as the 40,267-strong Magic Round crowd as he orchestrated a romp that included a Selwyn Cobbo hat-trick.
Corey Oates also scored twice in the Broncos’ fourth-straight win, something that’s alluded them since 2017, and confirms Kevin Walters’ improving side’s position in the top eight.
Victory follows wins over top-four side Cronulla and last year’s finalists Souths, with a top-four position now in their sights ahead of games against Newcastle (13th), Gold Coast (15th) and Canberra (12th).
It also came a year after the Broncos’ biggest ever loss to Manly, the 50-6 drubbing a marker of how far the 2020 wooden spooners have come.
“The nil scoreline was really pleasing and I think that’s the best start to a game I’ve had here,” Walters said.
“We hadn’t been able to finish our sets off the way we would have like to over the last few years.
“He (Reynolds) is one of the best kickers in the game and that’s really helped us with our defence and you see his influence in where we turn the ball over.”
Prized recruit Reynolds was in the heart of everything, twice putting in pinpoint cross-field kicks for Cobbo, while the 19-year-old winger also reeled in an intercept and raced 95 metres for his third try.
The halfback also looked after himself, collecting his own Langer-like short chip and scooting over to cap a brilliant first half.
The writing was on the wall from the kick-off for Manly, who allowed the ball to bounce 15 metres over the dead ball line.
Brisbane collected the short re-start and Reynolds obliged when Reuben Garrick strayed off his wing, kicking for Cobbo’s first.
Possession swung heavily in Brisbane’s favour but their improved defence was up to task when necessary, Billy Walters somehow holding out Tom Trbojevic after he had caught a bomb and landed on the tryline.
Manly’s attack was otherwise clunky, Trbojevic managing soreness in his well-strapped knee. Brother Ben suffered a shoulder injury but Manly coach Des Hasler insisted there were no lingering symptoms for his fullback.
“He (Tom Trbojevic) is getting back and he’s obviously still not quite there,” Hasler said.
“He won’t use that as an excuse, we were just off tonight.
“He hasn’t (aggravated his injury) at all. I can categorically say he is OK.”
Oates’ second try, cutting back through some soft defence, sealed Brisbane’s biggest-ever win over the Sea Eagles.
But with two Kurt Capewell’s efforts denied on review, the second a line-ball forward pass, the damage could have been worse.
Brisbane’s forwards were also dominant, with Pat Carrigan (156m) one of five Brisbane forwards with 100-plus run metres.