NRL 2022: Broncos cop brutal reality check from Roosters at SCG

Brisbane should still qualify for the NRL finals, but the nature of a big defeat to the Roosters will ring alarm bells for coach Kevin Walters.

Broncos coach Kevin Walters has challenged his side to get mentally tougher or risk being finals cannon fodder in the wake of their comprehensive 34-16 loss to the Roosters at the SCG.

Brisbane’s top-four hopes suffered a major setback as they crashed to their second consecutive loss — and fourth defeat in seven games — to leave the Broncos on shaky ground five weeks out from the finals.

The Broncos should still qualify for the finals, especially if they dispose of Newcastle on Saturday week at Suncorp Stadium, but the nature of the Roosters defeat will ring alarm bells for Walters.

The Roosters tore the Broncos apart in midfield and had no trouble rumbling through the midfield against a Brisbane side that has conceded a whopping 66 points and 11 tries in their past two games.

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Brisbane’s top-four hopes suffered a major setback. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Brisbane’s top-four hopes suffered a major setback. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

If the Broncos want to be a serious contender in the playoffs, they need to urgently rediscover the energy, muscle and mongrel in their defensive line.

Walters lashed Brisbane’s past two starts against the Tigers (18-32) and Roosters and warned his troops to find more desperation if they want to make waves in the playoffs.

“We missed the start, we never really got going,” he said.

“We stuck our head over the cliff and the Roosters were standing there waiting for us.

“Our starts have been poor, particularly against the Tigers, and we have to get that out of our game if we are serious about where we want to get to.

“We need to address our mentality and improve on our starts.

“We had a capable side to mix it with the Roosters but they wanted it more and showed their professionalism.”

Ezra Mam is wrapped up by the Roosters defence. Picture: Getty Images
Ezra Mam is wrapped up by the Roosters defence. Picture: Getty Images

Former Broncos skipper Gorden Tallis urged Brisbane’s senior core, led by skipper Adam Reynolds and deputy Kurt Capewell, to haul the side out of their form slump.

“They would be disappointed with the last month,” Tallis said on Fox League following Brisbane’s 18-point capitulation.

“It was a tough day at the office for the Broncos.

“Their defence is an issue ... they are leaking too many points and their senior players need to take some ownership.”

Broncos’ brutal reality check as top-four charge stalls

Brisbane’s premiership ambitions copped a stinging reality check after being brutally belted 34-16 by a resurgent Roosters side that is ominously charging into form on the eve of the finals.

Just a fortnight ago, the Broncos sent a chilling statement to their NRL rivals with a 36-14 pounding of Parramatta that suggested Kevin Walters troops’ could be the dark horse for this year’s title.

But Brisbane have suddenly lost their mojo, with a shock 32-18 capitulation to the Tigers last week compounded by this SCG stitch-up that saw the Broncos outmuscled and outhustled from the opening seconds.

The Broncos’ rejuvenation this season has been built on defensive desperation, discipline and midfield mongrel but they were never in the fight against a Roosters side that oozed big-game brilliance to claim a fourth consecutive win.

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The Broncos stumbled to their second-straight loss against the Roosters at the SCG. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
The Broncos stumbled to their second-straight loss against the Roosters at the SCG. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Tormented by Roosters big guns James Tedesco and Luke Keary, Brisbane trailed 18-0 inside 16 minutes and when Nat Butcher crashed over for his second try four minutes after half-time, the Broncos were toast at 24-4.

Entering the Roosters clash, Brisbane were fifth on 26 competition points, but they could finish the weekend as low as seventh. Their top-four hopes on life support, Brisbane desperately need to hit back against Newcastle on Saturday week at Suncorp Stadium.

REALITY BITES

Can Brisbane truly win the premiership? On this evidence, the Broncos need a drastic turnaround to be any hope of breaking a 16-year premiership drought.

With the finals five weeks away, this was a genuine litmus test of Brisbane’s title credentials.

The wake-up call has arrived.

Even allowing for their erratic season, the Roosters have been an NRL powerhouse for a decade. Their marquee stars such as Tedesco, Keary and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves are proven performers who relish the big stage.

The Broncos found that out the hard way. Missing suspended lock Pat Carrigan, Brisbane were slaughtered at the ruck and failed to build any pressure as the Roosters suffocated the Broncos with their line speed.

The Broncos conceded six tries in their loss to the Roosters. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
The Broncos conceded six tries in their loss to the Roosters. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

LETHAL LODGE

The Broncos paid more than $1 million to offload Matt Lodge last year. The new Roosters recruit came back to haunt his old club with a sensational performance.

Brisbane were towelled up in the forwards and Lodge was the poster boy of the Roosters’ midfield dominance, charging for 127 metres as he and Waerea-Hargreaves (145m) clearly outpointed Broncos rivals Payne Haas (121m) and Tom Flegler (87m).

Broncos back-rower Kurt Capewell is renowned for his defensive surety but the vice-captain has leaked tries in consecutive games, missing Adam Doueihi last week and falling off Keary for the 68th-minute solo effort which buried Brisbane.

Another Broncos veteran, Corey Oates, also had a bitter-sweet night, his two tries tainted by four errors that summed up Brisbane’s ill-discipline.

Payne Haas ran for 121 metres against the Roosters. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Payne Haas ran for 121 metres against the Roosters. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

BRITTLE BRONCOS

Brisbane have made major strides with their defensive aptitude this season but they need to find more mongrel without the ball in the run to the finals.

In the past fortnight, the Broncos have leaked 66 points and 11 tries against the Tigers and Roosters and they were consistently beaten to the punch by a Bondi side that rumbled through the midfield.

Brisbane’s lack of energy saw them concede three tries inside 16 minutes as Roosters ball-runners continually made cheap metres, putting the Broncos’ defensive systems under further pressure.

If the Broncos want to make an impact in the finals, they need to muscle up or they won’t last long in September.

Victor Radley was a bloody mess after his sickening head clash with Jake Turpin.
Victor Radley was a bloody mess after his sickening head clash with Jake Turpin.

RADLEY’S NASTY CUT

Roosters lock Victor Radley is renowned for his toughness on the field and it was on display after a sickening head clash with Broncos hooker Jake Turpin.

Radley came off second-best after charging into the Broncos defence midway through the first half in the Roosters’ clash with the fifth-placed Broncos at the SCG.

The brutal clash opened up a deep cut on Radley’s forehead and the blood poured out. Radley was taken from the field for a HIA assessment. Turpin was uninjured in the incident.

A stitched-up Radley returned to the sideline after passing his HIA and made his presence felt with a big hit on Broncos winger Corey Oates.

‘It must have been a bad spot,” Radley told Channel 9 after the match. “I didn’t understand why it bled so much ... but they patched it up and I was fine.”

Originally published as NRL 2022: Broncos cop brutal reality check from Roosters at SCG

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