They often say that defence wins games and that rang true for the Brisbane Broncos, who despite having little petrol left in the tank towards the end of the game managed to hold on for an 18-12 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs, as they repelled numerous sets on their line.
Frustrating the Dogs with steady cover defence, good man-to-man defence and a steely resolve, it was a gritty performance and kick-starts their campaign in the best fashion.
Despite that, the main talking point was about Ben Barba. Playing against his former side, he received a hostile welcome – even if the crowd was rather poor at just over 18,000 – and although he was not quite at his best just yet, he did enough to show that he will be a key weapon for the Broncos.
Pleased with the win, Barba admits that he was a touch nervous heading into the clash.
“I hid [my nerves] pretty well,” he said.
“I was pretty nervous. But I was just happy we got the win and we can move on from here.”
The key for him was to get an early touch and get that confidence back when running the ball.
“That was what probably helped me along with my nerves,” he said.
“To get a touch in early and get the ball in my hands.”
Overall, despite their win, there were times that the Broncos looked rather flat and made basic errors, prompting coach Anthony Griffin to highlight the need to improve their attack.
“I think for all of us in attack, clearly we’ve got some work to do,” Griffin said.
“We didn’t get our hands on the ball in the last trial, so we wasted that one. We spent the day chasing the Warriors. We had our moments, but I thought he (Barba) did a good job there. He defended great. He made a couple of inroads a couple of times. He’ll build off that.”
For the Dogs, it was not the best start, as the Broncos had a lot of early possession. The momentum began to shift, though, and despite having a mountain of possession in the second half, they failed to capitalise on a lot of their opportunities.
“I thought we had enough ball there in the second half to make amends,” said Hasler.
“Would have been nice to not be chasing points, but that’s just the way it works out.
“I thought the second half, we just got a bit sloppy.”
Dogs captain Mick Ennis echoed the thoughts of Des Hasler.
“As Des said, we had our chances in the second half but just could not capitalise and it’s disappointing, but it is early days,” said Ennis.
3. Corey Parker
2. Dale Copley
1. Ben Barba