[Source: NRL/ Twitter]
The Broncos have taken bragging rights in the inaugural battle of Brisbane with an 18-12 win over the Dolphins in a pulsating clash at Suncorp Stadium.
In front of a mammoth crowd of 51,047 on Friday night it was Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs who sealed the win with a 100-metre try in the 79th minute as the Dolphins threatened to steal victory.
Both sides could hold their head high after a high-quality contest that had it all from bone-rattling defence to long-range tries and courageous efforts to defy injury.
It was the Broncos who took the first shot on the right edge when Reece Walsh found Selwyn Cobbo but a superb cover tackle by Tesi Niu defused the situation for the Dolphins.
The Broncos then reloaded again down the right edge but skipper Adam Reynolds’ pass to Cobbo was too high and the ball went into touch.
Walsh 🤝 Cobbo#NRLDolphinsBroncos pic.twitter.com/DOP3zpqemg
— NRL (@NRL) March 24, 2023
Two forward passes out of dummy half by young Dolphins hooker Mason Teague handed Brisbane a chance and they capitalised through left winger Jesse Arthars after sweet lead-up work by Kurt Capewell, Walsh and Herbie Farnworth.
The Dolphins then lost bench hooker Kodi Nikorima with a head gash in the 27th minute after a heavy collision with teammate Tom Gilbert.
With six minutes to play in the half the Dolphins created space on the left but Walsh came across to shut it down with a strong tackle on Niu, who was clearly hampered by a leg injury.
Broncos five-eighth Ezra Mam then came up with a brilliant cover tackle of his own to deny Jamayne Isaako in the opposite corner.
Wallace powers through!#NRLDolphinsBroncos pic.twitter.com/bIbK4R7Cnl
— NRL (@NRL) March 24, 2023
The Dolphins had the final shot at points when Connolly Lemuelu powered into the back field and found Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow who went close only to be denied by more Broncos scramble.
Ten minutes after the break the Broncos had a second when Walsh delivered a magnificent cut-out pass to put Cobbo over in the corner and Kevin Walters’ men led 8-0.
Midway through the second half the Dolphins struck back when Jarrod Wallace took a pass from Ray Stone and powered over from close range to make it 8-6.
Dolphins halfback Sean O’Sullivan was forced off with an injury with 19 minutes to play but veteran playmaker Anthony Milford stood up with a perfectly weighted grubber for Tabuai-Fidow to chase through and score.
With 10 minutes to play Reynolds produced a show-and-go to bust the Dolphins and send Capewell on a 40-metre charge to the line to tie it up at 12-12. The skipper converted from touch to put Brisbane ahead 14-12.
A mistake by Walsh gave the Dolphins a late shot at victory but Staggs collected a Milford grubber on his own tryline and outpaced the chasers to put the finishing touches on Brisbane’s fourth straight win.