QUICK WRAP: Broncos at Eels
21 April 2023 - Parramatta play Brisbane in round 8 of the NRLM season in Friday night prime time at Marrara Stadium, Darwin
Was the game worth watching?
The first half is electric. The middle of the game gets soggy, both figuratively and literally. The end tries its best to be drama-filled but, like the finale of so many TV series, it ends up needlessly drawn out and the tension falls flat.
If you don’t want to hear Warren Smith bang on about something he thinks he saw for 20 minutes, then don’t bother with the last quarter of the game. Or the post-game. Or probably anything Fox-related for the next 18 hours.
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Did the Broncos look like the better team?
For the first thirty-five minutes, there isn’t a rugby league team in the world that could have stopped the Broncos. They did everything perfectly. They were making metres. They held the ball. They eased off their usual hyperactive drive to push the play that isn't there. They barely had to defend. he Eels couldn't get a look in and were exhausted. It was won before half time.1
Brisbane clearly took their foot off the gas once it became apparent they were in control. The Broncos didn’t score a try in the second half and only added two penalty goals. It was inevitable, doubly so once the torrential rain stopped, that the Eels would attempt a comeback, partly out of the natural swing of possession back in their favour and the energetic leadership of players like Clint Gutherson, but it was never a true threat. The Titans may give up 20 point leads but most teams do not.
Were they really the better team?
Yes. The Broncos were clearly the better team and it wasn’t particularly close. While the Broncos had more ball, the Eels let themselves down with their errors and they also missed almost twice as many tackles and got out-kicked by Reynolds, which is usually a Moses specialty.
Did you notice?
This would be the perfect section to pick apart the mechanics of hip drop tackles but that sounds like the boring shit you can watch Fox League for. We’re looking at highlights. Roll the tape and commence the gronking!
Bryce Cartwright comes flying out of marker to pressure Adam Reynolds. Reynolds spots a huge gap around Josh Hodgson in the line and sends Ezra Mam at it. Mam buries Campbell-Gillard with a dummy to the equally threatening support run from Walsh. Getting past Gurtherson with a flick pass to Reynolds is trivial.
I’m still not entirely sure how this happened but if he had his time again, Gutherson probably bats that dead. I’m not sure if he sees the hop the ball takes just before the try line. Still, it’s useful for Gutherson to see what X-factor looks like up close.
Hahahaha look at him. Where’s your effort areas now, champ?
Did you notice Taupau pat Brown on the ass after he just demolished him?
Haas may get charged with a hip drop tackle and he may well be found guilty of that offence but it’s pretty clear the NRL has no idea how to define what they think a hip drop tackle is, nor how to enforce its erradication from the game.
The Hopgood binning was Cory Paix, the Greek God of Drawing Bins, staying down until The Bunker decided something must be done. Like running at Tino last week, I think Paix thought he might get a penalty at most. Turns out that’s a binnable offence now. Who knew?
The Mam binning was a function of how long he had to hang in there to bring Doorey down but looked like a textbook example. Haas was tackling Campbell-Gillard when the latter goes to ground and physics takes over. Haas comes around laterally and lands on Campbell-Gillard’s legs because even Payne Haas is not immune to gravity.
Good luck sorting that out. They may all end up suspended or get fines or no punishments or a mix or the headless chicken will collapse on something fun, like a week in the stockade. Perhaps a public flogging at Magic Round?
As seems to be typical, the performance of the commentators is as embarrassing as that of officialdom. Find someone who loves you like Warren Smith loves spotting something he thinks the refs have missed, largely based on interpreting Haas’ reaction to something he had little control over and didn’t want to get punished for as GUILTY, that can be milled into CONTROVERSY and TALKING POINTS. It’s about the same as Andrew Voss’ love for arguing obscure minutiae with no one while there’s a game playing. This is what $27 per month buys you.
Actual final thoughts
Ashley Klein would have been sweating after his bizarre decision to play on when the Broncos should have been given a penalty in the lead up to the first Eels try. The Cumberland Throw described it as a “terrible call”. But now everyone’s talking about hip drops. Much better!
Haas had 144m and Carrigan had 134m. In the first half.
I thought Billy Walters had a good game and did not overplay his hand. There, I said it.
The Broncos will need to think about how they’re going to cover any suspensions. If Mam’s gone for a week or two, then it could be Jock Madden, who I had forgotten the Broncos had signed, stepping up. Or Kev could promote Billy off the back of this game to five-eighth and Blake Mozer could make his NRL debut. Or we could get wild and move Walsh to 6, shuffle Cobbo to fullback and bring Arthars back to the wing. If Haas gets rubbed out, the NRL may as well award Souths the win now and save everyone two hours.
Brisbane have had a relatively weak schedule so far, so it’s satisfying to see them put away a team everyone seems to agree is good but is now 3-5.
It’s hard to overstate but Brisbane looked seriously impressive in the first half. It’s hard to know how much of the decision to take their foot off the gas around half time was due to the rain or to a comfortable lead or both but they probably shouldn’t do that as early next time. Just for me.
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And I stopped taking proper notes, which at one point, with more than twenty minutes to play, read, “eels scored who cares”.