Sunday Territorian



THE Broncos have signed off from the 2021 season with a big 35-22 win over the Knights, with one of their departing men slotting a field goal in the final minutes.

Brisbane got out to an early lead over Newcastle in the final game of the season when Kobe Hetheringt­on scored under the black dot off an Anthony Milford chip kick.

They doubled down through Corey Oates who crossed in the corner to extend Brisbane’s lead.

The Broncos’ double-digit lead was soured midway through the first half when star prop Payne Haas was taken from the field with what looked to be a high ankle sprain.

Newcastle finally got on the board after Kalyn Ponga threw a cutout pass to find Enari Tuala who planted it down in the corner.

But their joy was short-lived with Herbie Farnworth crossing for the Broncos not long after.

The Broncos didn’t take their foot off the gas in the second half and Milford scored two minutes after the break.

Farnworth converted to take his side out to a 24-4 lead.

The Knights answered back via Starford To’a but that try was overshadow­ed with veteran prop David Klemmer leaving the field with a rib injury.

Brisbane extended their lead with an exciting intercept from Selwyn Cobbo to score, before Tesi Niu scored his second of the afternoon.

Newcastle hit back with tries to Jack Johns and Chris Randall within three minutes of each other but Milford slotted a field goal in the final five minutes to seal the win in what was his final game for the Broncos.

Whether it was the five-game winning streak under their belts or the fact they had already locked in a finals spot, the Knights were seriously disappoint­ing against the 15th-placed Broncos.

Coach Adam O’Brien chose to rest

a number of players before the business end of the season kicked off but interestin­gly still played his two most important players – Ponga and Mitchell Pearce – most likely because they’ve only played around eight games together this year.

The duo only played 45 minutes but it looked as though they were just coasting through.

Fox League analyst Shane Flanagan believes that O’Brien simply wouldn’t have been happy with how Pearce and Ponga performed just a week out from the biggest game of their season.

“I can guarantee he wouldn’t have been happy with that first half performanc­e,” Flanagan said of Ponga and Pearce.

“Since they’ve gone off the Knights have looked a lot better. Their attack is flowing, all their young players are wanting the football, they’re all on time and they’re competing for everything.”

Michael Ennis admitted before the game that he had been “very underwhelm­ed” by Newcastle’s attack this season and they didn’t do much to change his mind on Sunday.

“They’ve won five games but they haven’t been anywhere near their best. They’ve been out-enthused by a young Broncos side,” he said.

“Their attack’s mundane. It’s been very slow and pedestrian.”

With their biggest game of the season a week away, Cooper Cronk put the heat on veteran halfback Pearce and superstar fullback Ponga.

“Pearce and Ponga, that’s who all of Newcastle’s hopes are on,” Cronk said.

“If they play well, it fixes up the edge defence, if they can take it to the line and create some stuff, the points flow off the back of that.

“They’re old enough now and experience­d enough, it’s time to shine.

“It’s time to step up and dominate games.”

Quizzed on whether Ponga can be the gamebreake­r that the Knights need, Ennis said there was no question about it and he simply “has to” step up to be that player.

“He is an absolute superstar and I don’t say that lightly, he’s an absolute freak,” he said.

“We saw performanc­es like State of Origin III, that’s what they need from him.

“He was brought there as their marquee man. He can deliver, we’ve seen it in every facet of the game, at every level of the game.

“The guy’s a weapon.

“But Newcastle need him more than ever.”

 ??  ?? Brisbane’s Albert Kelly takes on the Knights’ defence. Pictures: Getty Images
Brisbane’s Albert Kelly takes on the Knights’ defence. Pictures: Getty Images
 ??  ?? Broncos captain Alex Glenn after his last NRL game.
Broncos captain Alex Glenn after his last NRL game.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia