QUICK WRAP: Broncos vs Raiders
8 April 2023 - Brisbane play Canberra in round 6 of the NRLM season on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Was the game worth watching?
No. If there was a way to make an error, the Broncos made it. If they didn’t, the Raiders did. It was a slopfest.
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Did the Broncos look like the better team?
No, they did not. I’ve been saying for weeks now that the Broncos’ style has been high risk-high reward and, at some point, it will come unstuck for them. Tonight, it came unstuck. They fired (relatively few, under the circumstances) shots and nothing found the mark.
The Broncos did discover what happens when a pack matches up to them. It turns out they don’t have a lot of tricks in the bag except to offload and hope some cool shit happens. When the cool shit doesn’t happen, it doesn’t take a huge amount of resolve, even for the Raiders, to keep that style of offence at bay.
While I don’t think either team played particularly well, the Raiders showed their intent to at least try to win the game from the opening set. It was equally clear that the Broncos did not intend to match them, making a weak twenty metres on their first possession that was reflective of most of the evening’s effort. The Raiders deserved to win this.
Were the Raiders really the better team?
Look, I don’t know what game the stats were watching. It’s strange to think that the Broncos could have still won the game, even after turning in seventy stinking minutes of football and ten minutes of marginally better pressure football. They had the possession, they had the metres and they weren’t that far off the other metrics. The eye test would tell you that wasn’t really the case though.
Did you notice?
The conceit of this section is that I notice something a little bit esoteric and then break it down for you and we all learn something. This time, I’m asking you the questions.
How do you end up in a situation where Billy Walters is the one defending the wing?
How does Jordan Rapana get over the top of Marty Taupau, Kurt Capewell1 and Herbie Farnworth?
How does Staggs end up defending a four on one with Adam Reynolds hobbling over in cover? Where is everyone else?
Some more skilled eyes than I will probably suggest the Raiders built pressure, compressed the defence and then took advantage by sending the ball wide and the Broncos bit down on some decoys they shouldn’t have. I don’t think it was all that complicated. I think the Broncos were just a 2020-era rabble. Canberra threw a set play at Brisbane for the first try, decided that was a bit too much effort and kept it simple and it didn’t affect the outcome at all.
The Broncos’ defence has been one of their quietly effective skillsets in these first five games. They’ve bent but rarely broken. Outside backs have been scrambling all over the place to make try saving plays while the middle generally held solid. The Broncos have conceded just 14 points per game, and they’ve made the opposition earn those points. That was not the case tonight.
Now is Walters’ first test and we can see if he has learned enough to earn his extension. How is he going to get a team that first looked disinterested, then disorganised and then totally deficient, back to their winning ways? If last year is anything to go by, he can’t. The opening quarter of the game reeked of 2019-22 Broncos sides that turned up expecting to win, without any respect for the opposition. They quickly find out they’re in a slugfest and just can’t find a gear in which to respond. Good teams don’t have this problem. That attitude adjustment is the coach’s responsibility.
Mam had a shocker with the ball in hand (and yet posted a relatively good TPR by his standards). I’m not sure why Pat Carrigan seemed to be obstructing on half the sets in the first half. In fact, Broncos overran plays all night. Staggs and Farnworth didn’t get much to work with. How long does Capewell have left? Haas was immense, as always, and I thought Walsh still had a pretty good game. It’s just that no one wanted to go with him and catch the damn ball2.
Flegler missing most of this game and the next is not good for the Broncos, although if there’s a game where a traditional game plan of forwards laying a platform for a considered and sober attacking scheme by the backs is probably not on the menu, it’s a game against the Titans.
Cobbo’s try probably doesn’t get allowed last year. It actually could’ve been worse.
Dan Ginnane’s feigned inability to wrap his head around what’s actually happening, verbally pretending to furrow his brow in a vain attempt to understand the situation, when it’s painfully obvious is just the worst (especially when you’re tired and being served up some absolute garbage).
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Capewell looks like he’s telling Rapana to settle down.
There’s a play where Walsh runs something they’ve obviously trained and literally no one else does what they’re supposed to do and he throws his hands up. I didn’t take note of when it happened to screen cap it but think he had a pretty frustrating night at the office.