Broncos cop an opening round reality check
ANTHONY Seibold's Red Hill revolution received a stinging reality check after watching his error-riddled Broncos crash to a season-opening 22-12 loss to big guns Melbourne at AAMI Park.
The post-Wayne Bennett era started dismally for the Broncos, whose debut under reigning NRL coach-of-the-year Seibold turned ugly against a Storm side that emphatically demonstrated what it takes to be the NRL's kingpins.
Before 16,239 fans, the Broncos were ruthlessly beaten out of the blocks, collapsing to a 10-0 deficit after just 14 minutes as Seibold was left to digest a sloppy round-one showing replete with errors and poor energy.
Reeling at 16-0 after 60 minutes, the Broncos gave Seibold hope of a stunning upset when winger Corey Oates (60th and 62nd minutes) scored twice in as many minutes to set-up a thrilling finale at 16-12.
But the Storm were always fresher, sharper and smarter, finally plunging the dagger into Seibold's Broncos when Jesse Bromwich atoned for an intercept pass by crashing over 12 minutes from time.
Premierships aren't won in March, so Seibold won't be hitting the panic button, but the Broncos need to find some energy and midfield aggression for next Friday night's derby against the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium.
ITo compound their plight, star centre James Roberts lasted just six minutes before injuring his back, while prop Matt Lodge could come under scrutiny for a late shot on Cameron Munster in the second minute.
It was that type of night for the bumbling Broncos, who have now won just four of their past 27 matches against the clinical and classy Storm.
Seibold's buzzword in pre-season has been 'marginal gains'. On last night's evidence, Brisbane must make miles of improvement.
It may have been round one, but Brisbane looked so weary it could have been round 17.
In the key effort areas, a key plank of Seibold's measurement of performance, Brisbane tried hard but they can't afford insipid starts.
Seibold has made it clear that he wants his forwards to be more dominant this season, laying the platform and ensuring clean delivery for his halves Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima to work their magic with front-foot ball.
But Brisbane weren't just beaten in midfield, they were pulverised.
It took just four minutes for fullback Jahrome Hughes - Billy Slater's successor - to crash over and when Storm centre Curtis Scott swooped on a Jack Bird fumble to race 55 metres to score, the Broncos were teetering at 10-0.
That the half-time scoreline stayed that way was a credit to Brisbane's grit and Melbourne's inability to turn the screws. Had Will Chambers and Felise Kaufusi not fumbled in Brisbane's in-goal after winning the race to two kicks, the Storm would have led by 20.
Seibold needs to make a critical call on where to play the superb Matt Gillett.
Playing his first NRL game in 11 months after a fractured neck, Gillett started at lock, but he was gasping for air after just 15 minutes as Melbourne's monsters swamped him in midfield.
The Queensland Origin ace showed pure heart to make 57 tackles, but he can be more dangerous in his cherished right-edge back-row role.
Seemingly down and out, the Broncos came surging home when Oates posted a double, but the Storm held their nerve to give Seibold's a brutal introduction to life at the Broncos.