Rugby League


Broncos bury Knights but lose plot on way to victory

PETERO CIVONICEVA was the one Brisbane player last week willing to admit the Broncos were in a hole - and despite an eight-try victory over Newcastle yesterday he concedes they might still be in it.


Playing against the Knights looked like being the panacea to all Brisbane's ills for the first 20 minutes at Suncorp Stadium yesterday. The Broncos led 24-0 and were almost tripping over each other in their eagerness to score.

Go right? Tries to Gerard Beale and Justin Hodges. Go left? Jack Reed and Dale Copley get their shares of the spoils.

But through circumstances that could be described as almost against the laws of nature, Wayne Bennett's men somehow managed to narrow the margin to 26-24 by the 59th minute.

Sure, the Broncos posted four tries, some horribly soft, in the final quarter-hour, but veteran prop Civoniceva was not about to declare the slump over - even if the three-match losing streak is.


"Today was better; no doubt we've still got some issues there we need to address," he said. "If we're honest with ourselves, all the boys would say that as well.

"In terms of being in a hole, we got away from the standards we set earlier in the season defensively. [Today] it was a great start but after that 20-minute mark we probably dropped off. We got away from the things that were working.''

It sounds daft to make reference to turning points in a match which finished so lopsided, but there were several. Just before half-time, with the Knights having come back to 24-18, Peter Wallace's kick was collected by Novocastrian Jarrod Mullen, who raced 90 metres upfield to "score".

But video referee Bernard Sutton detected a rebound off Chris Houston's legs - meaning Mullen was in an offside position. Brisbane received a penalty and the margin went back out to eight for the break.

At 26-24, Houston was offended at Alex Glenn's challenge on Darius Boyd and pushed the Brisbane forward. The second-rower was penalised and Sam Thaiday scored for Brisbane seconds later.

That's not to say Newcastle were the better side yesterday - just to illustrate that Brisbane were closer to a shocking result than the scoreline might indicate.

Hodges was the star of the match; it wasn't for nothing he attended the post-match media conference instead of captain Sam Thaiday.

"Justin Hodges is just playing sensational, he terrorised us out there," Knights hooker Danny Buderus said.

Hodges commented: "We sort of slackened off. We haven't got past that in our game yet. We get a lead and … give the other team a chance to come back, which they did."

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin said after three consecutive losses, yesterday was "an opportunity for us to show some character and dig in and play for the jersey and for the team - we didn't do that last week against the Storm.

''Without any disrespect to the opposition, we're not at our best at the moment. We're conceding tries out there. I'm extremely happy we got a win, I was pleased with the last 15 minutes.''

Bennett, who welcomed Boyd's return to form, said of his men: "I can't give them enough credit for that effort to come back and get back into that game. I'm just not sure how they did that.

"They got themselves in a situation to win it, although in the end they managed to lose it. We took the soft option in the end."

Buderus concluded: "Where we are as a team, we're close but we're a fair way away as well."

BRISBANE 50 (J Hodges 2 G Beale D Copley J Hoffman A McCullough J Reed S Thaiday tries C Parker 8 P Wallace goals) bt NEWCASTLE 24 (D Buderus 2 R Fa'aoso W Naiqama tries W Naiqama 4 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Gavin Reynolds, Ashley Klein. Crowd: 26,683.