The new look Broncos side successfully survivedÂ a big test against the Storm tonight,Â setting up a lead early and defending it most of the night in front of a big crowd at Suncorp Stadium to win 16-14.Â
The Broncos grimly hung strong, as StormÂ threw everything at them in the final 15 minutes -Â the Brisbane side eventually getting away with aÂ 16-14 victory.
Just under 40,000 were on hand to watch the highly anticipated game, with new Broncos outside back Israel Folau scoring an early try that will no doubt be a candidate for try of the year.
Folau leaping ridiculously high, and stretching out almost horiztonally as he soared metres above the ground to catch and ground a Brisbane bomb. The try sending the home crowd nuts as they cheered on their new star.
Brisbane half Peter Wallace putting in a vintage performance to steer his side to victory; kicking astutely and scoring a nice individual try to give his team the edge. The win smashes a 5 game run of losses against the Storm and sends a warning that the Brisbane side of 2009 is a serious contender.
For Melbourne, they threw everything at their opponents – but it was the Brisbane attack that kept coming up trumps. Storm fullback Billy Slater was again dynamic, slicing through the Broncos for an early try and doing everything to crack their line for most of the night.
The Broncos were in the driversÂ seat with the game atÂ 16-8 halfway through the 2nd half, until rookie Storm forward Kevin ProctorÂ latched on toÂ 50/50 Cooper Cronk kick to slide over under the the posts. The Storm getting back within 2 points and reviving memories of last years semi-final between the two sides.
Israel Folau was ecstatic at the chance to get a try against his old side. The former Storm golden boy coming in for rough treatment from his former team mates most times he carted the ball up.
It took star back Folau just over 10 minutes to burn his old team, scoringÂ his classic ‘Michael Jordan’ styleÂ try from a catch over the top of Anthony Quinn from the Wallace kick.
Quinn was highly involved for the Storm and his usual aggressive self. The winger in trouble for a raised forearm and proving a target of Brisbane baiting as he lashed out several times.
WhenÂ the Storm got on the board early through Slater, it looked like one-way traffic could be the order of the night. But Brisbane soon woke from their slumber, eventually enjoying 65% possession in the first term.
Star Broncos centre Justin Hodges was a late inclusion, getting through a fitness test and returning 2 weeks ahead of schedule.
Initially starting on the wing, Hodges soon moved into his usual centre position, Folau switching to the wing. Hodges had some good touches, but gave away several key penalties – eventually getting pinged for a bad grapple tackle that will probably see him miss 2 weeks.
Hunt linked up with Darren Lockyer for the 2nd Broncos touchdown, sending Steve Michaels in to score before half time; bringing up aÂ 10-6 lead. Lockyer looking much fresher tonight, his timing coming back and his fitness much improved.
The Broncos skipped further ahead to a 16-8 lead just after half-time when the Storm defence refused to play the whistle.Â A controversial try being awarded to an elusive Peter Wallace after referees missed aÂ blatent knock-on by Aaron Gorrell at dummy half.
The Storm stoppingÂ in their tracks as Wallace darted over to score. To the amazement of everyone, refereeÂ Ben Cummins refusing to check the video replay and the try was awarded.
CumminsÂ probably having an off-night overall,Â getting a few calls wrong and reviving memories ofÂ his 2008 form, where he had a few howlers.
After the game the Melbourne side blew up about the performance of the twin-officials, accusing both officials of missing a “blatant knock-on” before a Broncos try. Concerned at how so many officials on and around the field could miss a simply knock-on.
Storm brains trust Bellamy and Cam Smith amazed at how Tony De Las Heras and Ben Cummins let the Wallace try stand after half-time, when they had the chance to use the video.
“I’m very disappointed to lose by two points,” said Bellamy.
“To me it was a blatant knock-on.
“We’ve still got a video referee.
“I’ve got no problem with referees not being able to see that, as there are bodies around, but when the Broncos pulled up and we pulled up you were probably thinking there might have been something there and we could have had a quick look.”
However, hooker Cam Smith refused to say the error by the referees cost them the game.
“That knock-on should be picked up,” he said. “We lost by two points. I’m not going to say it cost us the game, we didn’t help our own cause with the way we played, but you don’t know what it would have changed at the end of the game.”
The win sees the Broncos go to the head of the NRL table, with a 100% record so far under new coach Ivan Henjack.