The Broncos held on to defeat the Bulldogs 16-10 in a thrilling showdown to finish the second round and secure back-to-back wins to start the season.
The Dogs were first on the board thanks to an attempt by Braydon Burns. They were able to capitalize on the Broncos’ mistake when defender Tesi Niu dropped a Matt Burton stun bomb that columnist James Hooper called “brilliant”.
Brisbane hit back through Corey Oates, who scored with a well-placed Albert Kelly shot.
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MATCH CENTER: Bulldogs vs Broncos score, live updates, video
Neither Burton nor Reynolds were able to convert tries into points, recording a 4-all at halftime.
In the second half, a charged Dogs team came out and it only took them eight minutes to regain the lead thanks to prostitute Jeremy Marshall, who dug in from the dummy half.
Fox League commentator Warren Smith summed up the opening minutes of the second half by saying, “Who let the dogs out?”
But five minutes later, everything changed when Herbie Farnworth took the ball away from Braydon Burns and ran 50 meters to score. Reynolds fixed the conversion and all points were fixed again.
Brisbane had a chance to take the lead, but failed in what could have been a sensational attempt. Reynolds threw a terrific ball – between his legs – only to be knocked off the line by Cotony Staggs.
However, they made up for it when Farnworth crossed the border for the second part of the night. Sharpshooter Reynolds was successful and snatched a 16–10 lead for the Broncos.
The Bulldogs were desperate to fight back and things were close when Josh Addo-Carr landed a shot in the last 10 seconds, but Albert Kelly snatched the ball to seal his team’s win.
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KEVVI SOLVES HALF A HEADACHE AS REYNOLDS DEBUTS
Broncos coach Kevin Walters said before the game that he wanted Reynolds to “slide to the side as smoothly as possible.”
The level-headed midfielder did just that, according to Michael Ennis, as he went about his business in the first half without replaying.
“The Broncos number 7 had an immediate impact,” he said.
“You can already see how calm they are, happy to play the long game here and roll in the middle, and Reynolds’ game is just happy to turn the Bulldogs over.
But when the game came to a 4-all stoppage at halftime, Reynolds really started to come alive.
“All the talk this week, all the hype, has been around the little master,” Ennis said.
“That’s what he was brought to the club for, that’s what the Broncos were for the last few seasons. They’re having a dogfight here, and they need #7 to get home.
“That’s what he was brought in for, that’s what he’s so good at, taking the game away from the opposition and strangling him.”
While it wasn’t Reynolds’ most dominant game, there’s no doubt that his easy-going nature did wonders for the Broncos as things got hectic in the final minutes.
He also gets a special mention for an insane bucket pass that knocked his legs off, which would have been the best pass of the year if Staggs hadn’t knocked him over the line.
Walters doesn’t have to worry about Reynolds. The 31-year-old is the established winner and will find his way soon enough. There was always a big question mark over who would play five-eighths.
Albert Kelly gained the upper hand over Billy Walters, who was being used as a hooker off the bench, and the 30-year-old did more than enough to secure his spot in the No. 6 jersey.
Kelly had a strong first round and then backed it up on Sunday, setting up the Broncos’ first try and putting together a desperate Dogs grabber in the last 10 seconds to save the game.
“We saw his instinctive play against Cody Walker last week when he pulled the ball out of Cody’s back pocket and ran 80 meters to score. With his first real injection on that left side, it’s a really good thing,” Ennis said of Kelly’s hit on Oates.
“That was special from Kelly. He had a fraction of a second to realize that Okunboru – the big man – would have a hard time turning around if he landed that punch accurately and just changed in the blink of an eye.”
BURTON’S BOOTS GIVE THE BRONCO NIGHTMARES
It was a bright half against the lead half, and although Adam Reynolds’ Broncos scored two points, Matt Burton ended the competition at the top.
It’s hard to believe Sunday’s game was just his 12th of the half. The 22-year-old was named last season’s Dally M Team of the Year – center – but was signed by the Dogs to solve his halves’ headache.
Burton looked dangerous with the ball in his hand… but with the ball on his feet he was on a different level.
Broncos defenseman Tesi Niu will have nightmares after Burton’s giant left boot tormented him from start to finish.
Nu dropped Burton’s bomb, eventually leading to the Bulldogs’ first attempt.
“While it wasn’t his best shot, when his NRL career ends, he will have a future in the NFL as a player,” said Fox League commentator Warren Smith.
“It was a powerful bomb,” added Michael Ennis.
“He didn’t hit perfectly, but I said before the collision that we knew how effective Reynolds would be with his boot, so Burton needed a big night … It was a beauty.”
Niu later had a chance to correct his mistakes and this time he just let the ball bounce.
“Burton made them very anxious,” Smith said.
Star finished in fifth place eighth with 83 running meters, three busts, two offloads, one line break, one line break pass and 410 meters of kicks.
“Matt Burton for me was probably the best player in the game. He was great,” said Corey Parker at halftime.
“What he was able to do with the shoe is that he has Tesi Niu in all its manifestations.
“He was brought to the club, we know what kind of player he is, he has an electric step with his left foot and his boots prove the difference.”
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SENDING SOS TO COTONY STAGGS
Cottony Staggs is one of the Broncos’ best players, but when they needed him most, he was nowhere to be seen.
The 23-year-old, dubbed “The Ferrari” by Michael Ennis, made just two runs in the 55th minute of the game.
It was a stark contrast to fellow center Herbie Farnworth, who had gone 83 meters in the first half alone and scored twice.
The Broncos should try to find a way to bring Cothony Staggs into the game,” Ennis said.
“They have Ferrari, one of the most dynamic players in our game, and he touched the ball twice. That’s all. He had two attempts in the entire game.
“They should get him feet. He should go looking – Farnworth had 11 carries.
“They’re probably planning to send an SOS to Cotony Staggs. It’s outrageous – Cotony Staggs was practically out of the game today.
“One of Brisbane’s most destructive players, someone needs to get a message across to him to get him into the game.
“He just sits on the right edge.
“I think of some of the great centers that I played with the Broncos was Justin Hodges, and no matter the competition, whether it was a half-run dummy or no cancer, he just kept finding his way through the competition.
“Staggs has to come in and invest, he has to get into the game. Brisbane needs him.
The cannonball center really had a moment to shine when Reynolds threw an incredible pass between his legs to create a try…only Staggs tapped as he dived over the line.
Staggs finished with a score of 51 running meters after five runs, four busts, an unload and a line break. He was completely eclipsed by Farnworth’s two attempts, one line break, four tackle interceptions and 216 meters of running.
“Herbie Farnworth, he brought out Cothony Staggs to the fullest this evening,” said Fox League sidebar commentator James Hooper.
Bulldogs: 1. Matt Duffy 2. Jaden Okunbore 3. Braydon Burns 4. Brent Naden 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Jake Averillo 15. Corey Waddell 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Paul Vaughn 11. Jack Hetherington 12. Tevita Pangay Junior 13. Josh Jackson 8. Luke Thompson 14. Bailey Biondi-Odo 16. Max King 17. Ava Seumanufagay Substitute: 25. Aaron Shupp
Broncos: 1. Tesi Niu 2. Corey Oates 3. Cotony Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Albert Kelly 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Keenan Palacia 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Rickey 13 Patrick Carrigan 4. Ryan James 15. Kobe Hetherington 16. T.K. Robati 17. Billy Walters Substitute: 18. Brenco Lee
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