Reynolds’ woes rear: Four things learnt from Broncos’ brave Storm defeat


The severity of Reynolds’ injury could have enormous ramifications for their season.

Already in the midst of a crisis which has claimed stars Payne Haas, Reece Walsh and Brendan Piakura – with Xavier Willison also sidelined with a head knock – the opening half against Melbourne and the win over North Queensland illustrated just how important the champion No.7 was to their cause.

Jock Madden, who was on the receiving end of a Panthers demolition in his first outing of the season, is expected to come straight into the side; however, Billy Walters’ assured showing in Reynolds’ absence could make a late argument.

The mastery of rival halfback Jahrome Hughes, who scored a try and set up another two while running for 110 metres, including a linebreak and linebreak assist, ultimately proved the difference.

But the bravery shown by the Broncos – scoring first points in the second half after Ezra Mam swooped on a clearing kick that was allowed to bounce – demonstrated that despite the wealth of marquee talent on the sidelines, they would be up for the fight, even against the heavyweights of the competition.

Horror error cruels Arthars’ perfect game

For the majority of the 80 minutes, Jesse Arthars was outstanding, embodying the same hard running winger which was behind his brilliant grand final exploits last year.

But for one unforgivable error, it may well have been a perfect game.

Leading by just two points inside the final 15 minutes, a sweeping backline movement – on the back of a brutal shot by Corey Oates and Selwyn Cobbo forced a mistake – looked certain to end in points.

Jesse Arthars [middle] was outstanding for much of the Brisbane Broncos defeat to the Melbourne Storm, but one error proved costly.

Jesse Arthars [middle] was outstanding for much of the Brisbane Broncos defeat to the Melbourne Storm, but one error proved costly.Credit: NRL Photos

But despite Cobbo’s pass landing right on his chest, Arthars knocked on to butcher what could have been a match-sealing try.

The sight followed another foiled attempt by Brisbane, who were unable to capitalise on a Xavier Coates drop from a clearing kick which ended up in Tristan Sailor’s hands.

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What could have been an eight-point lead became an eight-point loss on the back of it all, but while Arthars will be lamented that scene, his overall exploits cemented his status as one of the NRL’s most underrated flyers.

Running for 192m with two linebreaks and three tackle busts, setting up a try with a brilliant infield kick for Mam and scoring himself courtesy of a freak left-foot grubber from Reynolds showcased how far he has come since being sent to the New Zealand Warriors on a loan deal two years ago.

But Broncos coach Kevin Walters said it was sloppiness across the board, despite the entertaining affair, that ultimately cost his troops.

“When you concede 34 points, you can’t expect to win a game of footy when they score that many tries. Not acceptable,” he said.

“There was plenty of effort, and I can’t fault them for the effort. We lost Adam at halftime … but we just weren’t quite there defensively tonight and that’s the most annoying thing.

“There’s lots of effort, but we’ve got to get the effort in at the right places. I feel sorry for them in there, so much effort went in and just a couple of sloppy areas, and you concede points against a team like the Storm who are always at you, we need to learn from this tonight.”

Big Ben takes his maiden strides

The loss of Thomas Flegler to the Dolphins raised plenty of question marks over the Broncos’ pack: could they find an enforcer to support Haas?

While he is still very much a raw product, Ben Te Kura showcased that some day – perhaps in the near future – he could be that man.

Ben Te Kura celebrated his Brisbane Broncos debut with a late try against the Melbourne Storm.

Ben Te Kura celebrated his Brisbane Broncos debut with a late try against the Melbourne Storm.Credit: NRL Photos

Walters had hoped to keep the 19-year-old, 205cm behemoth’s try-scoring abilities under wraps, having developed a knack for finding the white line in the Queensland Cup.

That can no longer be the case, after his bulldozing effort at the death to score on debut gave the Broncos a late chance to steal a win.

Aside from that, Te Kura managed 124m, three tackle busts and a linebreak in a 26-minute stint off the bench.

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Given he only came into the side with Willison out of action, who has also shown impressive signs from his two games this year, the pair have each made compelling cases to take this Brisbane pack into the future.

When Haas inevitably returns from his expected six-week layoff due to a knee injury, perhaps the engine room will have the same impact as the one which delivered a grand final berth last year.

“He went really well, which we expected him to, to be honest,” Walters said.

“He’s pretty lethal close to the line, he got a try on his debut which is great for him, but he’ll be disappointed like the rest of us that we didn’t get the win.”

Mam springs to life

He has endured a slow start to the year by his standards, but Mam sprung to life against the Storm with a performance almost reminiscent of his grand final heroics.

Much like on that fateful Sunday, it was all in vain.

Mam’s double threatened to orchestrate a Broncos’ boilover, both his tries coming with instinctive support running off kicks.

Ezra Mam dives over to score for the Brisbane Broncos against the Melbourne Storm.

Ezra Mam dives over to score for the Brisbane Broncos against the Melbourne Storm.Credit: NRL Photos

His kicking game was forced to go up a notch in the second half with Reynolds on the sidelines, but his probing running game never left, finishing with 176m despite not registering a linebreak.

Mam will need to bring that same intensity and willingness to control the team into next week’s Battle of Brisbane against the Dolphins, and beyond that if Reynolds’ time in the casualty ward extends beyond the April 12 clash.



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