Broncos pip Bulldogs in Brisbane
By Matthew Attard
SCOTT Prince has been sent out on a high from the Brisbane Broncos after his side pipped the Bulldogs 16-11 tonight.
With the returning Ben Barba starting from the bench and Sam Kasiano also back from injury, the Bulldogs were boosted.
The opening stages of the match at Suncorp Stadium set the stage for what would be a big clash.
Both teams were throwing their bodies at one another, with the Bulldogs making big inroads on several occasions but still having to defend as the Broncos tried their hardest to cross the stripe.
The Broncos had a first half possession rate of 63-percent while in all other statistical facets they led, including penalties receive, offloads, tackle busts and field position.
Someone at the Bulldogs had ordered a case of Red Bull for their powerhouse second rower Tony Williams, who was putting in a lot of effort in both attack and defence, something that has been missing this season.
Flying high: Mitch Brown contests a high ball in the Bulldogs loss to the Broncos. Pic: Getty Images
Finally, in the 27th minute, Josh Reynolds was rewarded for an earlier line break with a try, which was converted by Trent Hodkinson for a 6-0 lead.
What came next is the newest stain on the game of rugby league with Josh Morris penalised for a “shoulder charge” on Broncos winger Corey Oates that forced the young gun into touch.
The tackle was innocuously a clash of bodies in which Morris tried to wrap his arms around but an on-the-spot penalty allowed the Broncos with fantastic field position, with Oates scoring in the same set.
Departing halfback Scott Prince was unable to convert from the sideline and, despite a Reynolds 40-20 kick, the score line remained 6-4 at half time in favour of the Bulldogs.
Some dubious calls led to a conversation between Michael Ennis and the officials, but it didn’t aid the Bulldogs skipper as his side lost the lead with Jack Reed scoring out wide.
Prince converted the try and with his side having the rub of the possession and field position.
That didn’t stop Ben Barba from setting up the next try, as the soon-to-be-Bronco weaved up field from an Ennis offload to set up Ksnan Inu. Hodkinson missed the conversion and the scores were level.
With a couple of repeat sets the Bulldogs were odds on to score another try but simply couldn’t crack the defence of the home side, with Hodkinson instead opting to slot a field goal for an 11-10 lead.
As has been the game plan for the Bulldogs this season, Sam Perrett rushed up in defence on a Broncos attacking play and it ultimately spelled the end for the visitors as Oates dove over for his second try of the evening and a Broncos win.
Prince capped off a memorable year by nailing the sideline conversion, leaving rugby league on a high.
Brisbane Broncos 16
Tries: Corey Oates x2, Jack Reed
Goals: Scott Prince 2/3
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 11
Tries: Josh Reynolds, Krisnan Inu
Goals: Trent Hodkinson 1/2
F/Goals: Trent Hodkinson x1