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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.

Arthars opens the scoring

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.

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.

Capewell breaks them open

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.

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.

Walsh can save tries too

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.

Match snapshot

  • The attendance of 51,047 is the biggest crowd for a stand-alone club game at Suncorp Stadium.
  • Dolphins hooker Kodi Nikorima left the field in the 26th minute for a HIA which he passed. Upon further review he was ruled out of the game.
  • Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Jamayne Isaako chewed up the metres for the Dolphins, racking up 37 runs and 413 metres between them.
  • Man of the match Payne Haas led the way up front for Brisbane with 16 runs for 157 metres and four tackle breaks.
  • Fullback Reece Walsh continued his sizzling start to the season with 140 run metres, one try assists and two line break assists.

And they are back

  • Tom Gilbert worked the house down for the Dolphins with 40 tackles.
  • Dolphins prop Jarrod Wallace's try was the 21st of his 194-game career.
  • Broncos winger Selwyn Cobbo has scored 17 tries in his past 16 NRL games.
  • Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has now scored five tries in four games in 2023.
  • In his 299th NRL game, Dolphins skipper Jesse Bromwich ran for 149 metres and made 18 tackles.

Young stars combine

Plays of the Game

In a pulsating first half full of big moments, the tackle by Selwyn Cobbo to put Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow into touch in the 31st minute was one for Kevin Walters' highlight reel when the Broncos review the game. A dropped ball by Brisbane deep on the attack handed the Dolphins a chance to break away down the left and 'Hammer' made plenty of metres before Cobbo rounded him up and bundled him over the sideline. In a battle of two of the game's finest young talents it was Cobbo coming out on top on this occasion.

This play had everything

In the end it was the Broncos making a statement when Kotoni Staggs ran 100 metres to seal a memorable victory for Brisbane. Staggs took the ball on his own line and pinned his ears back to go the distance despite the brave chase of a number of Dolphins players.

Staggs goes 100 metres

What They Said

"Each of the games we've played we've been behind at different stages and we've managed to fight our way back into the contest and we got there in the nick of time tonight with Kotoni with that try. He's been really good for us in the opening month, he's had a good month of footy. He's a quality player, he's a rep player, and he's getting himself into that zone where he's performing consistently every week. You just notice his presence out there, particularly the physical side of the game which he thrives in." - Broncos coach Kevin Walters

Broncos: Round 4

"The scoreboard was the only place we lost tonight. Halfback gone, hooker gone, and we're still in there at 14-12, incredible. Tesi Niu was gone after 10 minutes but he stayed for the whole game. Looks like Sean O'Sullivan has torn a pec so we'll be without him for a few weeks. I couldn't be disappointed with anyone, what they did and what they gave." - Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett

Dolphins: Round 4

What's Next

The Dolphins travel to Wollongong on Saturday to face another of coach Wayne Bennett's former teams St George Illawarra. They look set to be without Sean O'Sullivan and Kodi Nikorima while Tesi Niu defied the pain of a leg injury to see out the match.

The Broncos are back at Suncorp Stadium for a clash with Wests Tigers in Round 5 as they chase a fifth straight win. The last time Brisbane started a season 4-0 was 2003.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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