Almanac Rugby League – The kids are alright

The Warriors have flown under the radar very effectively in the lead-up to this year’s finals series. They managed to get into Brisbane this week with barely a mention. Instead, it was all about the Broncos, the loss of Hoffmann and Thaiday, finding someone to protect Lockyer in the defensive line, and Hodges’ gammy hammy. If you believed all that you read, you’d swear the Warriors were favourites.

The faithful arrived in droves to witness “Farewell to Locky II”, hoping to see their hero improve on his woeful finals record in Brisbane – just one win from seven finals to date. In the process, they saw Lockyer equal Kevvie Walters’ record of 34 finals appearances. Win this one and he breaks yet another record!

I rolled up in the same lounge chair as last weekend to take in the game. The wife was banished downstairs for her usual Saturday night viewing, “Gardening Australia”. For some reason, I was feeling reasonably confident. Perhaps it was a flow on from the win earlier in the afternoon by the Redcliffe Dolphins in a cut-throat finals game in the Queensland Cup; perhaps it was the sherry and a couple glasses of white with dinner lifting my spirits.

It was a contest for all of 5 minutes. The Warriors opened with several strong forward runs and an apparent willingness to spread the ball to try to bring the likes of Lock and Vatuvei into the game. Yow Yeh knows where the tryline is and a cheeky little nudge around the opposition, regather and roll had him over to score but, as usual, the “no fun police” ruled that he had knocked on by rolling the ball under his body.

This was just the start of an extended period of Broncos domination that lasted for almost an hour. A knock to Mannering (now there’s a good player!) didn’t help the visitors. He carried on manfully, as a skipper should, but didn’t reappear after half-time.

In the meantime, it was a mixture of young and old Broncos who attacked relentlessly, forcing the Warriors ever backwards, forcing fumbles and mistakes, and forcing the ball over the tryline three times by the break. Alex Glenn executed a one-on-one steal on Tupou and, later in the resulting set, backed up a “won’t lie down” Wallace to open the scoring. Parker obliged with the conversion: 6-0 after 17 minutes.

“Beast” Vatuvei was trying hard to gain ground out of deep defensive positions but an unnecessary attempted pass gave the Broncos another invitation to score which they did courtesy of the working class hero, Jack Reed. Parker again; 12-0 after 28 minutes. Matt Gillett came off the bench and made up for lost time by using speed, strength and determination to gift Lockyer his 122nd NRL try five minutes from the break. Parker again; 18-0 at halftime.

The Broncos were doing it on the bit, as they say. Strong in the forwards (Parker, Maguire, Glenn, Te’o) and creative in the backs (Beale, Wallace, Lockyer, Yow Yeh), the locals played some of their best footy of late. By contrast, the Warriors couldn’t string anything together and looked disorganised. Their key players (Lock, Maloney, Luck, Vatuvei) went missing, with only the veteran Hohaia showing spirit and energy.

Last week I celebrated the presence of the Manly “huggy bear”, George Rose. The Warriors have their own version, Ben Matulino, another Rubenesque player to give your average Joe hope of making the big-time.

The second half didn’t start any better for the visitors. Vatuvei dropped another bomb and Mateo fumbled to give the Broncos field position. Lockyer’s cross field kick attracted only one player who wanted the ball, the irrepressible Reed, who immediately dished a pass to the unmarked Parker who only had to fall over the line. After Parker’s kick it was 24-0.

The Warriors finally made it into the Broncos 20 metre area for the first time all game in the 54th minute. Yes, folks, in the 54th minute! They made it worthwhile five minutes later with a try to the enigmatic Mateo (a potential match winner every time he straps on a boot, but why does it happen so infrequently?) which was converted by Maloney: 24-6.

Poor ball security by Halla within sight of the line, a penalty conceded and a good backline movement by the Warriors saw Vatuvei salvage something from a disastrous night with a try in the corner. No conversion, so 24-10 with just over 10 minutes to go.

Within moments, The Beast was back to his worst with another lost ball leading to a McCullough try, a Parker conversion and a 30-10 scoreline. Two minutes later it was Hodges’ turn in the right corner (34-10) before the impressive Beale backed up on the inside for a final 40-10 result.

It was a flogging. How the Warriors will back up next weekend against the hot (but flukey) Tigers is anyone’s guess. Perhaps it will be a high scoring, ad lib fiesta to see who can score the most outrageous tries. I felt a bit sorry for Lance Hohaia who tried everything to lift his team but got little to no support apart from Luck who tackled tirelessly.

The Broncos? Where do you start? Beale was sensational in both attack and defence; Gillett cut through the defensive lines easily; Parker ran strongly and completed 40+ tackles; Maguire continued his purple patch of form (190 metres this week); Wallace and Lockyer schemed; Jack Reed (yes, I know I mention him a lot, but there’s a lot worth mentioning about this bloke) just never gives less than 100%; McCullough, Te’o, Glenn, Copley…

Next week it’s “Farewell to Locky III” at Lang Park against Benny’s Dragons. Will the kids be alright again?

BRISBANE BRONCOS 40 (Tries: Glenn, Reed, Lockyer, Parker, McCullough, Hodges, Beale Goals: Parker 6/8)
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 10 (Tries: Mateo, Vatuvei Goals: Maloney 1/2)

Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Crowd: 48,943
Votes: 3 – Beale (Brisbane), 2 – Gillett (Brisbane), 1 – Parker (Brisbane)
Milestone: Darren Lockyer equals the record of 34 appearances in finals matches

About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

Leave a Comment

*