QUICK WRAP: Broncos vs Dragons
18 March 2023 - Brisbane play St George Illawarra in round 3 of the NRLM season in Saturday prime time at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Was the game worth watching?
Yes. If you are a Broncos fan, you may wish to skip the arm wrestle and jump forward to 70’. If you’re a Dragons fan, there’s still something to take away from this performance1.
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Did the Broncos look like the better team?
Yes. People will point to the errors or sloppy play but we’ll probably need to accept that this is how this team plays. Brisbane are a high risk, high reward offering. Critically, when it pays off, it becomes a feedback loop, amplifying the reward. It’ll come unstuck for them at points this season but this game wasn’t it.
Were they the better team?
Yes, pretty comprehensively. The Dragons were only 1.6 metres per set off the Broncos’ pace and while they took their shots when they had them, they just didn’t get the ball often enough, despite the Broncos’ errors. The ten minutes leading into half time, after the first round of pit stops, was when St George got on top of the arm wrestle and put their points on the board but they were absent in the third quarter. For the most part, the Broncos were the stronger looking side and it’s impressive that it took 70 minutes for the Dragons to crack but when they did, the dam collapsed.
Did you notice?
Here’s a clip of Shallin Fuller, an extremely hot prospect2 out of Burleigh Bears in the first week of the 2021 QCup finals, going on the break, kicking for himself and dummying the absolute shit out of Wynnum Manly fullback, Selwyn Cobbo, to level the game for Burleigh.
A couple of minutes later, Fuller tries the exact same thing.
Not only was that an incredibly impressive individual play, it punched Wynnum’s ticket to the preliminary final. Big moment, big play from Cobbo. We got the full Cobbo dichotomy in this game.
(yes it was called back, who cares)
Sublime effort in a backbreaker:
Against the Panthers in round 1, it seemed Cobbo decided he personally was going to break the game open and each successive error or misjudgement only fuelled him further to try even harder, probably to his and the Broncos’ detriment. He was largely cut out of the game against the Cowboys but we found ourselves on the rollercoaster again in this game.
I don’t particularly like the expression “rocks and diamonds” and I don’t think it’s applicable to Cobbo in any case. “Rocks and diamonds” implies an inability to put it all together and it’s a coin toss - random - which player will turn up on a given day. Cobbo keeps going until he succeeds, almost bending the game to his will. It’s intentional. More importantly, you get far more diamonds than rocks with Cobbo and the rocks are even less relevant when his teammates are staunch defenders, as the Broncos are showing themselves to be.
Cobbo would be nigh-on unplayable if he was able to minimise the bad, with a touch of patience and experience. That may never happen. The good may be conjoined with the bad and be integral to who he is as a footballer. If so, that’s fine. We’ll ride the ride with him.
If I have a concern, it’s that flash, razzle and dazzle of the backline will get all of the credit. A glance at the advanced boxscore - irrespective of the merit you personally put on these stats - shows you the game is being won by the forwards. To borrow a cliche, they are laying a very stable platform so Reece Walsh, Ezra Mam and Selwyn Cobbo can come up with some ad hoc bullshit to put the points on the board.
Starting to think Jordan Riki might not be the rusty swinging gate I believed him to be. More data needed.
Ironically, the best periods of Broncos play were when Walters was at dummy half.
I found myself making the same observations as Mick Ennis through the first half. I may need a CT scan.
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E.g. Matt Burton is going to be hell for your back three, none of whom can seem to catch a ball.
Before breaking his tibia in the 2022 pre-season and disappearing from view.