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They say rugby league is a game of two halves and never has a truer phrase been spoken to describe Brisbane's 24-14 victory over Manly tonight at Suncorp Stadium.
The Broncos withstood a first half blitz from the Sea Eagles to pile on 24 unanswered points in the second half in an amazing victory, which has been over shadowed by a possible serious leg injury to Sea Eagles star player and likely NSW debutant Tom Trbojevic, who put on a clinic in the first half for the ‘home' side as the Sea Eagles looked headed for victory in the second match of the double header at the venue.
The game turned on its head in the 63rd minute of the match and with the Sea Eagles leading 14-6, Trbojevic let an Andrew McCullough bomb bounce and was then legally tackled in the air by Broncos winger David Mead. However the potential NSW young gun landed horribly on his left leg and he was assisted from the field, with serious concerns about his welfare for State of Origin I in just over two weeks time.
Making matters worse for the Sea Eagles, was that the ball then fell into the path of Darius Boyd, who found Corey Oates for him to score in the corner. From there, the Sea Eagles capitulated, when minutes later Jorge Taufua lost the ball returning a Broncos kick, which saw Broncos half Kodi Nikorima race away for the Broncos to lead for the first time in the match and they were never threatened running in another try to Oates for the Broncos to secure their fifth win in a row.
Manly came into the match with an undefeated away record and the ‘home' side continued their red hot form blitzing the Broncos with three tries in the opening ten minutes.
Fullback Tom Trbojevic all but secured a Blues jersey with an electric performance to start the match, when an error from Tautau Moga in the first set of the match gave Manly an attacking opportunity. Trbojevic received the ball from the scrum from Queensland hopeful Cherry-Evans and Trbojevic took the opportunity busting through two tacklers to score the first try after just one minute of play.
Minutes later, livewire Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford picked up a charge down and looked to be racing away when he ran out of room and was thrown into touch by the Eagles cover defence. Off the next set the Sea Eagles charged up field and hooker Api Koroisau picked up the ball from dummy half and muscled his way through four Brisbane defenders to score and Manly led 8-0 after just seven minutes.
The Trbojevic show went up a gear, when brother Jake found his younger brother with a beautiful inside ball and Tom charged through the line once again. The fullback then threw a long cut out/gridion pass which easily travelled forward. Never the less, the ball bounced up for winger Jorge Taufua, who picked it up and beat the cover defence to score in the corner. It was all the Sea Eagles who lead 14-0 in just 10 minutes of play.
While their opening ten minutes was sensational, their defence for the remainder of the first half was perhaps even more impressive, with the Maroon and white wall repelling the Broncos attack time and time again frustrating the ‘visitors' in to error after error.
On a day where second half comebacks were the theme of the day, the Broncos didn't disappoint when Kodi Nikorima ignited the ‘visitors' attack when he put prop Korbin Sims through an enormous gap 30 metres out, the big prop then kept the cover defence of Tom Trbojevic at bay, offloading to Milford who scored the first try for the night for the Broncos.
Both Nikorima and Milford were excellent for Brisbane in the second half, with both scoring tries and having a hand in each of their sides four second half tries to lead a terrific fightback in from of their delighted fans.
Manly coach Trent Barrett will now be sweating on the fitness of his star player Tom Trbojevic first and foremost this week, however he would be at a loss to understand what happened to his side who were so slick in attack and resolute in defence in the first stanza, only for them to simply fall away once their fullback left the field. They now face a tough challenge in Round 11, where they face the Titans on the Gold Coast next Saturday.
Wayne Bennett on the other hand will be delighted with his side's second half performance as the Broncos now look to consolidate their position in the top four, when they host the Tigers at home on their last game before the Origin sides are announced.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 14 - Brisbane Broncos 24
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Halftime Score: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 14 Brisbane Broncos 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Kodi Nikorima
2 points - Anthony Milford
1 points - Tom Trbojevic
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (14)
Tries: Tom Trbojevic, Apisai Koroisau, Jorge Taufua
Conversions: Dylan Walker (0/1), Apisai Koroisau (1/2)
BRISBANE BRONCOS (24)
Tries: Anthony Milford, Corey Oates (2), Kodi Nikorima
Conversions: Jordan Kahu (4/4)