When Wayne Bennett returned to the Brisbane Broncos this year, fans rejoiced. If anyone could give them a premiership, it was Supercoach Benny.
For all their star power and popularity, the Broncos haven’t won the NRL premiership since 2006.
After last night’s thrashing of Souths, Brisbane regained the lead with the Sydney Roosters and North Queensland at their heels.The Broncos should finish top two, which means two home finals and the garden path to the first Sunday in October.
While the Broncos have only missed the finals twice since 1992 (2010 and 2013), they have fallen short in September.
So can the Broncos finally win it this year? The big win against Souths suggest they might. They’ve managed the post-Origin slump with a 4-3 record leading into last night’s game. The Roosters and Cowboys are their biggest threats. While they had a close loss to the Roosters last week, they beat them by four at home in round six and they comfortably beat the Cowboys in round three.
The Broncos’ defence has been outstanding. They have conceded 364 points (an average of 15 points a game), the second best behind the Roosters (290 at 13). Their points differential is a healthy +202, just behind the Roosters again at +225. Brisbane’s halves combination of Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford are leading them around beautifully and they have relatively few injuries. They have the advantage of a finals-like game against Melbourne next week before a home final at Lang Park against North Queensland, Souths, Cronulla, Melbourne or even Canterbury. Brisbane would be confident of beating those teams and advancing to a home preliminary final.
Momentum is crucial in late August. After a tough seven weeks, the win against Souths indicated that Bennett has them in finals mode. This could be the year of the Bronco.