Away side earn important first-up victory in important 2014 season.
The Brisbane Broncos gave new recruit Ben Barba the perfect homecoming to ANZ Stadium, with his new side defeating his former 18-12 in the NRL.
After winning a Dally M Medal with Des Hasler and the Dogs, Barba’s return to play Canterbury was placed under the spotlight all off-season.
But it was the new Broncos fullback and his teammates that came away with the two points, as they survived a strong Bulldogs comeback in the second half to win by six.
Brisbane had only won three of their last nine games against Bulldogs and only won one of their last eight away games going back to last season
But after racking up a 14-point lead in the first 20 minutes, the away side did enough to give coach Anthony Griffin the start he wanted to 2014.
Barba’s first touch was a solid one for the former Bulldog, as he cleaned up a chip kick and made 20 metres on the counter-attack before finding Dale Copley with an off-load.
Canterbury ill-discipline led directly to the first Broncos’ try when two penalties allowed Barba to lay on a clever grubber for centre Copley.
The kick allowed two Broncos’ outside backs to line up for the score, but it was Copley who benefited as the away side jumped out to a handy 6-0 lead.
Again off the back of a Bulldogs penalty, Daniel Vidot bashed his way across the line out wide for the away side, and despite the attention of the video referee, the Broncos’ lead grew to 12.
Brisbane were much quicker at the ruck in the first 20 minutes, and as a result, they were able to take the pressure off themselves quickly and caught the Bulldogs’ napping in their marker defence.
After further penalty, Brisbane jumped out to a 14-0 lead early on as the away side looked strong
in their first game of the season despite their mixed trial game form.
Tempers flared just before half-time when Michael Ennis clashed with Brisbane’s Martin Kennedy as players from both side rushed in.
Kennedy was placed on report for the high tackle that sparked the clash between the sides,
with the Bulldogs given a golden chance to open their account for 2014 from the resulting penalty.
And Josh Morris did not need any further invitation as he scored off the back of a well-placed kick, with the centre showing good hands to bring the ball down, cutting Brisbane’s lead to eight.
Josh McCullough was placed on report early in the second half for a high shot on the Bulldogs’
Mitch Brown, who was left shaken by the contact to his chin.
Brisbane went close to scoring as Barba held up the play and put a beautiful pass onto
the chest of Alex Glenn.
But the video referee found the Bulldogs did enough to get under the ball and stop what would have been a crucial try for the away side.
Canterbury’s defence showed a marked improvement early in the second half, and as a result, Des Hasler’s side got more possession in better places on the field.
Tony Williams then scored a vital try for Canterbury as he was on the end of a set play close to the line.
And the massive backrower was too strong from five metres out and made the score became 14-12 in favour of the Broncos.
Todd Lowrie was left dazed after a spectacular clash with Canterbury’s Frank Pritchard, with the Broncos player sent flying while feeling worse for wear as he needed to be helped off the field.
The physical approach of the Bulldogs sat the Broncos’ pack back on its heels as the tide of the battle started to change mid-way through the second half as the home side peppered the Broncos’ try-line.
A line-break by Copley was the catalyst for a last-gasp Brisbane attacking surge, and while Lachlan Maranta scored out wide, the refs sent the try upstairs.
The on-field referee said no-try on field citing a possible obstruction earlier int he play, and the video official disagreed with the away side gaining an important six-point lead with five minutes left.