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THE WEEKENDLY: Kids, this is what it was like to watch the Broncos from 1997 to 2000
Titans win, Broncos lose and then win, Scott Drinkwater, Ali Brigginshaw, NRLM round 22 and NRLW round 2
Broncos (and Titanides) at the Gabba
Despite the Brisbane Cricket Ground’s lengthy rugby history, the third playing of The Classic: Ladies’ Edition was probably the first rugby league game played by women at The Gabba. It’s also the first time the women’s Classic has actually been played in the Brisbane local government area, after 2021* was hosted at Robina (Titans 28 - Broncos 26) and 2022 at Kippa-Ring (Broncos 22 - Titans 4).
While the Broncos raced out to an early lead, and then briefly recaptured it during the second half, it never quite felt like Brisbane’s night. It’s hard to know how heavily to weight the softness of the tries actually scored by the Titans against the slew of tries not scored to allow us to draw conclusions about the Broncos’ defensive capabilities. We should perhaps consider that Gold Coast’s halves pairing had a combined age of 38 - three years younger than Steph Hancock - but nonetheless acquitted themselves well, provided Kiria-Ratu is not asked to kick more than fifteen metres, and should capably handle the absence of Taliah Fuimaono as she recovers from an ankle injury. This is doubly true if the Titans pack can deliver a 300 metre advantage each week, a huge and welcome turnaround from the previous season’s efforts.
While we only have a sample size of two, Gold Coast look a far more complete team that their south-east Queensland rivals. Evania Pelite was as great as ever. The three-quarter line of Bass, Chapman, Mino-Sinapati and Williams-Guthrie performed admirably. Rilee Jorgensen, if you can get past the first 15 seconds of the game, proved she deserves a spot at this level, while Elliston, Mato, Bent and especially Hale put in a world class performance. Lauren Brown and Brittany Breayley-Nati are a perfectly professional pairing of rakes to keep the team moving. Brisbane are a team with talented individuals - Gayle Broughton is legitimately a fantastic player and not just because she stood out on a mediocre Parramatta team - and are a team that looked better than last week but still seem to be a few steps off the pace.
Now, let me tell you something that you might not remember but, kids, this is what it was like to watch the Broncos from 1997 to 20001. This men’s side is a version of the Broncos you can believe in because there was never a moment in which it looked like the Roosters might actually threaten for the victory. So while Kev is not a tactical genius and Billy can't get an offence on a roll and all the usual stuff I'd piss and moan about, this is the best version of what they can be. Sydney played physical but never got the better of Brisbane. An early shot on Cobbo inspired him to take a serious interest in proceedings. Waerea-Hargreaves would've been publicly executed for his shot on Haas during various crackdowns in the last few years but the Broncos took the two and got on with it, repaying the debt with nice clean interest. The defence held as firm no matter what the shadow of the Roosters threw at them because their forwards are more bark than bite and their backs may as well be pudding, or possibly creme brulee, depending on how torched they got by their opposite numbers.
When the Broncos found themselves at the other end of the field, they took their chances with consummate ease. I said “Jesus fucking Christ”, not out of frustration as would normally be the case, but sheer disbelief when Mam scored his first. Pat Carrigan scored his first NRL try2 and put the game beyond doubt before half time and after that, everything was irrelevant. That is, even though the Bunker decided it can't overrule a clearly incorrect on-field offside ruling, despite every other review in history ruling the kick chase onside as their first order of business, and the referee himself making a cover tackle to deny Tyson Smoothy a try because it wouldn’t be a proper newsletter if I didn’t point out the clownery generated by the officials. I make the real score at least Broncos 42 - Roosters 10.
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Here’s some leftover GIFs from Monday’s post that I didn’t cull entirely, forgetting that I’d probably have more from Thursday’s games (e.g. Mam’s tries, Brown’s field goal).
Instead, we have Scott Drinkwater, the Shadow of Terrigal, going through the Eels line untouched after Chadson Townsend hypnotized them all with his incompetent footwork.
And Ali Brigginshaw ensuring Tarryn Aiken was sore the next day. Welcome to the Sunshine Coast.
NRLM Round 22 / NRLW Round 2
The Bulldogs, in their infinite wisdom, have brought their home game against the Dolphins to Queensland. For a struggling Sydney program, you could hardly have made a greater error in judgement. Stranger still, Canterbury have an affiliation agreement with the Western Clydesdales, who base themselves in Toowoomba and represent the Darling Downs and south-western Queensland. The game is then, of course, being played in Bundaberg, approximately 400 kilometres away, admittedly a short drive for our regional friends.
Ceding home ground advantage to Redcliffe is one thing but being worse than Redcliffe is entirely different. The Dogs have gone off a cliff(e) since round 15 and have used up their magic token good for one (1) win against Souths. Expect the Red Fish to get home comfortably with a performance as simple as it is competent, while Reed Mahoney acts like a frustrated toddler as he tries to work out how he ended up in blue and white and not red, white and gold3.
While the Bulldogs are dilly-dallying with a home game in Bundaberg, there’s a NRLW double header, in which none of the four teams are the Bulldogs, at the Bulldogs’ suburban spiritual home at Belmore. I don’t profess to understand how the NRL does its scheduling but it would be puzzling until you work out that this probably cost them less than any more sensible alternative. The remaining Queensland NRLW team to play in this round, the Cowboys, are taking on the Knights in the first game. North Queensland looked a little on the rare side in the first game, being somewhat underdone, but that’s hardly surprising for such a young side. The Cowboys weren't blown off the park in EXtP but struggled to match the Titans’ execution. Newcastle, conversely, looked imperious, having lost very little with the slew of defections from the Knights to the Cowboys4 in what promises to be the revengiest of revenge games in the NRLW. Expect the Knights to romp home, while I look at the Cowboys’ future schedule and work out if I can salvage my pre-season take that they’d be good.
The Titans’ final Queensland derby of 2023 will be played in the Sunday afternoon free-to-air slot, hosting the Cowboys. While Nanai is a big out in Queensland’s Third Oldest Rivalry, the Cowboys are in such a hot patch of form that is extremely unlikely to matter. The Titans are coming off a belting from the Roosters that I would be sure Justin Holbrook engineered had he not already been fired. It would have been highly embarrassing had anyone seen it. Expect the Cowboys to be easy favourites and pile on plenty of points to win the 31st Semi-Classic5.
Proprietary vibes-based tips
NRLM - Dolphins by 8, Cowboys by 18
NRLW - Knights by 16
QCup - Wins for Wynnum, Easts, Burleigh, Central, Townsville and Norths
Limited in time? Here’s what’s good in Queensland rugby league this weekend.
Quality (Q) is rated by the average of the team’s Elo ratings - the higher the average, the higher the quality of the match. Competitiveness (C) is rated by the difference of the team’s Elo ratings - the smaller the gap, the more competitive the match. Matches are rated in each category from very high down to very low and given a star rating from one to five accordingly. Bonus stars available for Queensland derby in the NRL (+1), statewide feature game (+1), PNG home game (+0.5) or the involvement of the Dragons (-0.5).
The XXXX State League final is this Saturday at 6pm with Cairns playing Brisbane Red at the Logan Metro Sports Complex. The game will be streamed on QPlus for my fellow sickos.
I didn't have time to write a proper take on the RLPA/NRL dispute, although it's unlikely one needs to be written, as the players have now started conspicuously covering the NRL logo on their jerseys. Peter V‘Landys implied the RLPA is racist for not taking a pay cut on international rep payments, so the Pacific countries can be looped in, is funny. Felise Kaufusi and Sia Soliola, both of whom might have a better grasp of racial dynamics than old man Vlando, called this out, which is funnier still. I might have pointed out that offering Pacific islands labour much lower remuneration to do the same job as Australians were doing has a long and colourful history in Australia. As noted on The Roar, “The composition of the RLPA is around 50% Pacific heritage, in line with the wider playing group, whereas the NRL has no Pacific voices at the upper echelons of decision-making.” Peter V’Landys might want to look into all of this sometime, especially with the Cairns Pasifika Bears on the horizon. In the meantime, he should just stump up more money if he wants this to go away. The NRL made $60 million last year.
Piggabeen is getting an upgrade. Here’s what the Gulls had to say. This isn’t a new Dolphins Oval, or even a Langlands Park. The masterplan is more in line with the changes to Davies Park. There will be expanded seating, new LED lighting and some important, but boring, civil engineering components.
Ash Werner cops a two match ban for biting although I will admit if you put your forearm in my mouth and I didn’t ask you to do that, I probably would do likewise. I do hope this suspension provides an opportunity for the Broncos to find a replacement who is a) good and b) possibly under the age of 25, but this week’s experiment of running back rower Jasmine Fogavini on the wing is not encouraging about the depth of the Broncos’ roster.
Tom Gilbert signs for five years with Dolphins. $600k/yr seems good value. ESPN spelled Redcliffe wrong in their headline.
Phil Sami signs with the Titans to 2026, at which point one of those Mayan calendars must be rolling over and the Frizelles expect the world to end.
Cowboys sign Viliami Vailea for two years.
Liam Horne: Castleford Tigers sign versatile Papua New Guinea forward. Thought Horne has looked pretty good this year, although I wasn’t sure if that was because of his name.
Hnaloan Budden fait son retour en Élite 1. The Clydesdales’ Budden, who is also looking pretty good, albeit for a team whose only wins have come against a team who was no wins, will return to Saint-Gaudens (allez les Ours).
If you’re wondering where the women’s stats are (you’re not), sample size has always been a huge issue but I think after this season, we will finally have enough data to do a decent job for 2024.
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Barring the first half of the 1999 season.
He scored three for Wynnum in 2018.
It was the money, you dingus.
Interestingly, not only have the senior players that originated from North Queensland left the Knights for the Cowboys, but they seem to have taken Mia Middleton with them.
Cowboys are 19-11 against the Titans. Does not include previous North Queensland/Gold Coast clashes.