Brisbane 26 South Sydney 12
Thaiday on their mind ... South Sydney's John Sutton, left, and Chris McQueen surround Broncos captain Sam Thaiday last night. Photo: Getty Images
IF Greg Inglis doesn't play fullback for Queensland in Origin III, NSW players who make a break will be saved from an experience akin to having "a refrigerator" dropped on them. That was how Brisbane fullback Josh Hoffman last night described being smashed by Inglis twice in the first half of the Broncos' win at Suncorp Stadium.
"The first time, all I remember was getting hit," Hoffman told the Herald last night. "The second time, I remember Wal [halfback Peter Wallace] passing me the ball and just having my eyes closed. I knew he was going to get me. I just braced myself. He's a big bloke. What can I say? It's just like being hit by a big refrigerator."
Cheer squad ... Petero Civoniceva notches up a win in his 300th NRL game. Photo: Getty Images
If comments from Mal Meninga in the Herald yesterday are anything to go by, Inglis is no certainty to assume his club position in the Origin decider on July 4.
There were indications during the game Queensland may need him in the centres with Justin Hodges clutching at ribs in the second half - but coach Anthony Griffin said the injury was an ongoing problem and did not have the star centre in doubt.
South Sydney coach Michael Maguire and acting captain Michael Crocker backed Inglis for the No.1 shirt. "On his performance tonight, he'd do a pretty good job for Queensland there," Maguire said.
Tough going ... Scott Geddes takes on the Brisbane defence in a hard road trip for the Rabbitohs. Photo: Getty Images
Crocker added: "I think Dane Nielsen knows their systems well enough to slot in [the centres] and do a good job there."
Although Souths lost the game, there was controversy over two of Brisbane's second-half tries. Before Alex Glenn crossed in the 44th minute, Rabbitohs defenders were penalised for stripping Bronco Ben Hunt of possession. Subsequent replays indicated Hunt had been trying to offload.
And when Brisbane winger Dale Copley scored in the corner on the hour, the final pass - from Jack Reed - was dubious and the previous - from Corey Norman - definitely looked forward. As all this was happening, Hodges was clutching his chest after being floored in the 47th minute. He completed the game but will be checked over the weekend for stomach muscle or rib injuries.
It was good fortune of another kind - refereeing - that gave Brisbane the touchdown that consolidated their place in the top four and may have plunged Souths to eighth.
Hooker Andrew McCullough kicked ahead once and then got the toe to the ball again, in what would be referred to as a ''hack'' in soccer. This time the ball ended up with Norman, whose evening had been mixed, and he dashed over to score. Norman had set up the only other try of the first half, scored by South Sydney.
Mercurial winger Nathan Merritt snatched Norman's pass out of the air in the 48th minute when his side looked like being swamped by Griffin's men. Merritt made short work of the 90-metre run to the try line and with Adam Reynolds's conversion, the Rabbitohs hit the front 12-10 with half an hour to play.
South Sydney-bound Ben Te'o made sure of the result when he scored two minutes short of time off Peter Wallace's pass. A try a minute before half-time to Souths second-rower Chris McQueen, converted by Reynolds, gave the visitors a 6-4 lead at the end of an untidy first half.
The first scoring opportunity was Brisbane's. Wallace and Sam Thaiday combined for Hoffman to cross but referee Chris James ruled the final pass forward.
In his 300th game, Petero Civoniceva was given the final conversion attempt. From 15 metres out, to the right of the posts, he was a metre outside the left upright.
BRISBANE 26 (D Copley A Glenn J Hodges C Norman B Te’o tries C Parker 3 goals) bt SOUTH SYDNEY 12 (C McQueen N Merritt tries A Reynolds 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Tony Archer, Chris James. Crowd: 33,602.