Looking to bounce back from a 56 point Elimination Final humiliation last year, The Broncos showed some promise early. Whilst their defence was valiant for the best part of an hour, constant Parramatta possession and relentless attack took its toll. Fatigue opening the door for the Eels to steamroll Brisbane late in the game.
Parramatta quickly quashed any worries that their momentum would fall victim to the COVID-19 induced 67 day NRL hiatus, starting strongly and never looking back.
Parramatta capitalised on the new six-again rule – awarded after opposing ruck infringements – inside the opening four minutes. Boosted by back to back six-agains, Dylan
Brown cut through the Broncos defence and took the Eels deep in enemy territory, Marata Niukore taking the ball over the line.
As the game progressed, it was a struggle to find any evidence of an eight week break, the footy being played at very high standards.
After finding their rhythm on the back of a fast Eels start, the Broncos were up for the fight. Sparked by electrifying half back Brodie Croft, who threw a textbook dummy before leaving Clint Gutherson and the rest of Eels defence in his wake. Tying the game up at six points a piece inside 20 minutes.
Whilst there would be plenty more out-of-your-seat, heart-in-your-mouth moments for Broncos fans. Most notably, Anthony Milford and Darius Boyd chasing grubber kicks into the in-goal area just to knock on, so tantalizingly close to a try. There wouldn’t be any more celebrating.
Maika Sivo, intertwining strength and acrobatics, produced some magic to give the Eels a half time lead. Withstanding a Jesse Arthars tackle to score with his entire body both suspended in mid-air and out of bounds. Almost defying gravity to put the ball down in-goal and complete the try.
Maiko Sivo scoring a spectacular try
Sivo nearly went back to back. A Clint Gutherson long ball looped over three Eels and into Sivo’s hands, who had free roam on the wing. A contentious forward pass ruling the only thing standing in the way of the Eels taking a two try lead into half time.
The uphill battle facing Brisbane was made even less desirable when captain Alex Glenn was sent to hospital at half time for stitches on a leg wound.
Clint Gutherson made Brisbane pay for a slow start to the second half. Creating space with a deceitful dummy before jetting through for a try. Moses would miss the conversion, keeping the lead at 16-6 and Brisbane alive with a faint sniff.
Relentless Parramatta pressure would follow, and without their leader the Broncos could’ve easily folded.
Valiant they were. Staving off the seemingly constant Eel attack for the best part of 20 minutes. Something had to give. Parramatta dominated every facet of the game and nearly every stat was in their favour.
Darius Boyd (left) and Blake Ferguson (right) chasing down a threatening grubber
Their constant and ruthless attack wearing down the Broncos play by play. Attack was defence for the Eels. Fatigue a byproduct of nonstop defence that rendered Brisbane harmless with ball in hand.
In the 62nd minute veteran centre Michael Jennings opened the floodgates. Embarking on a trademark journey across the field, from left to centre, Jennings waited with poise, timing his break to perfection and easing through the Broncos defence.
Clint Gutherson offloaded to Shaun Lane mere metres away from the tryline. The damage was already done and the trio of Broncos defenders standing in his way stood little chance as he crashed over the line.
The Broncos were in damage control and had one last hoorah to walk away with a respectable defeat. Croft linked Staggs who linked Farnworth on the wing but the pass was deemed forward and Farnworth fumbled into touch. That play summing up a lackluster night in attack for Brisbane.
Rubbing salt into the wounds of a battered Brisbane, Mitchell Moses led a late Eels charge forward, offloading to Matterson who offloaded to Waqa Blake, waltzing over the try line to put an exclamation mark on Parramatta’s warning shot to the competition.
The rugby on display was fast paced, free flowing and entertaining. The six-again rule working a treat to keep play moving and further test player fitness. For the first time since 2008, we saw a lone referee take the field with impressive results. Parramatta leaving an empty Suncorp Stadium deserving 34-6 victors after a dominant display where they controlled possession and wore down Brisbane to the point of hopelessness.