Broncos v Warriors: 5 Key Points

Broncos v Warriors: 5 Key Points
Run On © NRLPhotos – NRL Round 2, Broncos V Warriors @ Suncorp Stadium, Friday, 11 March 2016

Broncos v Warriors: 5 Key Points

Broncos v Warriors: 5 Key Points

Broncos v Warriors: 5 Key Points

Broncos v Warriors: 5 Key Points

Broncos v Warriors: 5 Key Points

Corey Oates was a factor at both ends, Milford wins battle of the superstars, Roger run off his feet and fatigue makes a welcome return to rugby league...

1. Corey Oates building case for Origin

He came close to winning a second straight Man-Of-The-Match award from the wing, and with each game that passes, Corey Oates is looking more and more ready to play State of Origin for Queensland.

Superb against the Eels in Round One, Oates scored the opening try of the night – his fourth straight game where he has crossed the stripe, and now boasts 29 tries from 57 NRL games.

Not even a suspected dislocated shoulder that forced him from the field in the final 10 minutes of the contest could lessen the influence he had on the result.

"He's looking big and fast and athletic and he's a great weapon in this Brisbane side," said Greg Alexander in his commentary on Fox Sports.

But the 21-year-old's greatest contributions on Friday night against the Warriors came at the other end of the field where he came up with two crucial carries from inside his own in-goal in the first half that allowed his side to retain possession.

He even dabbled in some contortionism in the in-goal area midway through the second half that shepherded the ball over the sideline and earned the Broncos a 20-metre restart as opposed to a dropout.

Two minutes later, he tackled Lolohea into the in-goal to get for his side what the Warriors were unable to achieve all night, and from the next set of six, the Broncos scored through Darius Boyd.

Boyd has held a mortgage on the Maroons left wing position, but on the other side of the field, new Queensland coach Kevin Walters will have to weigh up whether to stick with incumbent Dane Gagai who plays in the centres for the Knights.

2. Milford v Johnson compelling viewing

The two most dynamic ball-players in the competition seemed to take delight in trying to pick apart their respective edges like two grandmaster chess players, looking to impart their own attacking strategies while dissecting the opposition's defence.

The Broncos' first try came from a nice sleight of hand from Milford down the short side from a penalty tap restart, while for his side's second, a perfectly timed cut-out pass put Jack Reed into space who on his return to the team ran 45 metres to score.

The Warriors looked most threatening when Johnson was skipping to the right looking for space, often going short to Bodene Thompson, if for no other reason, than to blunt Milford's attacking thrust.

Milford's kicking game had more polish than Johnson's - who on a number of occasions kicked the ball dead-in goal when his team needed a repeat set - but in his defence, the Kiwi superstar was playing behind a depleted team for much of the second half.

It was only the second time the pair had faced off as direct opponents; let's hope there are many more over the next decade.

3. Danger of short shelf life for Tuivasa-Sheck

It's only Round 2 but the effectiveness of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will wane as the season goes on, if he is continued to be used in the role that he was employed in on Friday night.

Showing plenty of courage and energy, Tuivasa-Sheck was thrown the ball for every kick return and often turned up to take the first run to start a set of six, giving his forwards a platform from which they regularly failed to take advantage.

He finished the match with 205 metres from 27 runs, but they were hard earned as the Broncos defence kept him from making a single linebreak or tackle bust.

Such a workload will take its toll over the next 24 weeks if he can't be used more effectively.

"That was the nature of the game tonight," said Warriors Coach Andrew McFadden.

"It was end-to-end stuff, particularly in the first half, and you could see both teams' kick-chases were starting to tire so it becomes a real arm-wrestle back and forth and that's where Roger really excels.

"He's so fit and he's going to carry the ball a lot for us in that situation. If he can get some momentum and get some quality ball I'm sure you'll see a different side of Roger as well."

4. Warriors inability to build pressure proves fatal

In a scrappy first half where both teams were guilty of making errors, the Warriors matched the Broncos for effort but were lacking in polish where it matters most.

Dominating the early territorial battle, the Warriors repeatedly let the Broncos off the hook - either through penalties or poor execution on the final tackle.

Halfback Jeff Robson kicked a ball dead in-goal in the eighth minute, a Shaun Johnson grubber was easily cleaned up by Darius Boyd and they gave away three penalties inside 10 minutes.

Even when kicks were weighted well the support wasn't there to corral the Broncos in their own in-goal as Corey Oates twice took passes and fought his way back into the field of play.

"I thought we missed a couple of opportunities in the first half," said McFadden.

"We got the ball in-goal a couple of times and they passed in the in-goal and got out. Credit to them to get behind the footy but I thought there were a couple of guys that missed their assignment there, that could have made a difference."

Trying to stay within reach early in the second half, Johnson kicked dead in-goal once again when his team desperately needed a repeat set.

Individually they're not game-changers but the accumulation ensured that the Broncos were never really pressured on their own line.

5. Welcome the return of fatigue to the contest

As Manu Vatuvei was led from the field seven minutes into the second half clutching at his ribs to join Blake Ayshford (concussion) in the Warriors sheds, the challenge was put to the rest of the team to deliver courage in the face of extreme fatigue.

They battled on manfully and although players playing out of position were exposed by the Broncos attack, there was never a lack of effort.

24 hours after the Panthers tried to drag themselves past the winning post with the injured Waqa Blake little more than a passenger, Simon Mannering and Bodene Thompson both made more than 40 tackles as the Warriors desperately tried to stay in the contest.

The issue of player welfare and possible introduction of an 18th man for injuries will invariably be discussed in the aftermath, but the changes that have been made to the interchange will produce heroic performances that fans will long cherish.

"I think it was evident in both teams that the eight interchanges are having an effect through the middle and losing those players puts a massive strain on you," admitted Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman.

"It puts a massive strain on your outside backs to get in and do more work as well, so if you've got the outside backs coming in, you're losing your shape as well.

"It has been a big factor and when you get injuries it just compounds it."

This article first appeared on NRL.com
 

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