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Brisbane produced their most clinical first half performance of the season before fending off a late Eels comeback to win 26-16 in Darwin on Friday night. 

The Broncos ran in four tries in the opening 40 minutes to set up a 22-6 lead with the combination of halves Adam Reynolds and Ezra Mam running riot on the back of a strong platform set by Payne Haas and Pat Carrigan up front early.

The ladder leaders then controlled the game in the second half with a further two penalty goals ruling out any chance of an Eels comeback despite two tries in five minutes giving the home side a sniff. 

Parramatta were coming off a five-day turnaround which appeared to play a part in their lacklustre performance in humid conditions that soon turned torrential at TIO Stadium.

Outrageous Mam

The Eels were under the pump from the opening with the visitors taking a 6-0 lead through a try via Herbie Farnworth following a Sean Russell mistake in the air. 

Brad Arthur's men bounced back with a try of their own off the boot with Clint Gutherson showing his soccer skills to pick up and collect a ball in the in-goal.

That was where the end-to-end tussle essentially ended, however, with the Broncos piling on three tries in nine minutes to set up a 16-point lead.

A Sivo special

It all started with Reynolds finishing off a Mam flick pass for a try before Kotoni Staggs kept a Reece Walsh kick alive to hit it back to Mam for a four-pointer of his own. 

Reynolds, who had the ball on a string all evening, then set up Staggs with a kick across field that had the perfect bounce for the Broncos centre to go over.

Two penalty goals after the break stretched the lead out to 20 before the Eels breathed life into the match through tries to Maika Sivo and Sean Russell.

A no try ruling against Russell with four minutes left denied the Eels a chance to set up a grandstand finish in a concern for the Broncos, who fell asleep with the game wrapped up. 

Match snapshot

  • Temperatures in Darwin were 27 degrees at kick-off before torrential rain hit before half-time to add to the contest. 
  • The Eels, who were coming off a five-day turnaround following victory over the Bulldogs on Sunday, missed 28 tackles in the opening half as the Broncos raced to a 22-6 lead.
  • Six of the eight tries from the clash came from kicks. 
  • The Broncos completed at 90% early. Brisbane's average metres per set (48.6) was far greater than Parramatta's 37.9. 
  • Payne Haas (175 metres) and Pat Carrigan (158 metres) ripped through Parramatta's middle.
  • The Eels lost Bailey Simonsson to a Category 1 concussion in the second half before Reagan Campbell-Gillard picked up a groin injury after contact from Payne Haas, who remained on the field. 
  • Eels forward J'maine Hopgood was placed on report and sin-binned for an alleged hip-drop tackle before Ezra Mam followed for a tackle on Matt Doorey.
  • Brisbane's win over the Eels was only their second in eight games. 
  • The Eels' loss in Darwin was only their third in NRL history. 
  • Eels second-rower Shaun Lane played his 150th NRL game.
  • The victory sees the Broncos push out to a four-point competition lead on the ladder.

Play of the game

A never-say-die play from Kotoni Staggs to keep the ball in play for Brisbane's third try enabled the visitors to stretch their lead out to 10 before they went on with the game. It's the type of effort that has the Broncos brimming with confidence and sitting at the top of the table.

Mam in the action again

What they said

"We're fighting hard as a team but leaving too much to do in second halves. Our start wasn't good enough and they rolled through the middle. We've got to harden up at the start of games. I think in the second half we played a bit more of a power game but we were trying to play too cute and pretty at the start of the game." - Eels coach Brad Arthur.

"They're a good side so we knew they were always going to fight back. I thought our first 40 was really good. We expected the possession to even up and expected a tough game and we got one. I'm not sure if we made a statement [but] it's a good move for us. They probably weren't at their best but at the moment it's about winning games and identifying where we can get better." - Broncos coach Kevin Walters.

NRL Press Conference: Eels v Broncos - Round 8, 2023

What's next

After two games in five days, the Eels will have an eight-day turnaround before preparing to host the Knights at CommBank Stadium. Bailey Simonsson (concussion) won't be available while scans are likely for Reagan Campbell-Gillard (groin) after he failed to finish.

The Broncos will also return home to Suncorp Stadium for a clash against South Sydney. Ezra Mam (hip-drop tackle) is on report while Payne Haas' tackle on Campbell-Gillard may come under scrutiny by the Match Review Committee.

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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