NRL: Broncos need more spark

Matt Gillett scores against the Cowboys on Friday night. Photo / Getty Images
Matt Gillett scores against the Cowboys on Friday night. Photo / Getty Images

Despite winning two games from two to open their 2014 NRL campaign, attack remains a concern for the Brisbane Broncos.

They ground out a 16-12 win over the Cowboys on Friday night after beating the Bulldogs 18-12 in round one - but the champagne remains on ice for coach Anthony Griffin, who knows his side is just "hanging in there" with some dogged defence.

In both games the Broncos have restricted their opposition to 12 points but, in both games, the attacking efforts have run hot and cold.

Against the Cowboys, the makeshift halves pairing of NRL greenhorn Ben Hunt and out-of-position fullback Josh Hoffman tossed up plenty of rocks and diamonds. Hunt crossed for a try, disallowed because Josh McGuire impeded Tariq Sims in the lead-up. His kicking game was jittery, lofting two kicks straight up in the air when attacking raids were on.

Fullback Ben Barba set up the first try and always threatened with ball in hand, but he too struggled at times with his kicking game.

"Everyone, I suppose, is playing for each other and that's coming out in our defence," Griffin said. "[But] obviously not in our attacking performance."

Kiwi fullback Hoffman showed signs he could provide spark at five-eighth, a position he has played just two NRL games in, after he was the surprise pick to inherit the jersey this season.

"He's finding his feet," Griffin said."Obviously we've got to do a lot better at that [attacking], but he's got that little touch of class in him at times. Just his running in general in the second half started giving us opportunities."

McGuire was placed on report for two incidents in the match against the Cowboys, a swinging arm on Gavin Cooper and a late shot on the legs of halfback Robert Lui after he had kicked the ball.

Meanwhile, if the Broncos are not entirely happy with grinding wins, Manly are. Hooker Matt Ballin praised Manly's strength under adversity after an injury-hit Sea Eagles claimed their first NRL win of the year, a 14-12 win over South Sydney on Friday.

Already without stars Brett Stewart (hamstring) and Jorge Taufua (shoulder) for the clash, Glenn Stewart was a late withdrawal with a groin complaint. Manly were underdogs heading into the rematch of last year's first preliminary final given their injury toll, a forgettable round one effort against Melbourne and Souths' big win over premiers the Sydney Roosters in the season opener.

But Manly secured a memorable come-from-behind win to serve notice they will again be one of the sides to beat in 2014. Ballin praised Manly's ability to perform despite having the odds stacked against them. Manly coach Geoff Toovey said Glenn Stewart could return for the side's round three match with Parramatta. But Brett Stewart is likely to be a week further away and Taufua is set to return in round five.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 29 Dec 2014 12:15:11 Processing Time: 229ms