Broncos too strong for Thunderbolts
The Melbourne Thunderbolts were humbled 68-24 against the Brisbane Broncos NYC at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The 44-point loss brought to an end a great run of form for the Thunderbolts, who had won five of their last eight matches including a draw last week against the Sea Eagles.
Brisbane ran in 12 tries to four with hooker Kalolo Saitaua claiming a hat-trick and halfback Gerome Burns scoring two tries and kicking 10 goals for a personal haul of 28 points.
Describing his side's performance as their worst of the season, Thunderbolts' coach Eric Smith said the loss all came down to attitude after the Broncos led 30-0 after only 20 minutes.
"Obviously it wasn’t an ideal day today and it's disappointing because our last eight weeks has been our best block of footy all year," Smith said.
"They turned up with a better attitude and they were more committed to their job. I don't think they are a better football team than us, I just think their desire to win today was a lot better."
"To put a performance together like that in front of our home crowd hurts me and the players are hurting as well. It's not how we want to perform up here (at home) and we're a better football team than that."
The Broncos opened their account after five minutes when Saitaua took advantage of some soft Melbourne defence.
Brisbane scored from the very next set with a runaway try to five-eighth Tristan Hope with Burns converting to make it 12-0.
Saitaua snared another simple try from dummy-half to extend Brisbane's lead to 18-0 and in the 17th minute Burns sold a simple dummy to the Thunderbolts' defence and scooted away for the fourth try of the afternoon.
It went from bad to worse for Melbourne with Sam Leach and Sam Smith combining down the left edge to hand the Broncos a 30-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Saitaua claimed his third try just prior to the half-hour mark when he weaved through some lazy defence to score underneath the posts and Burns made no mistake with the conversion to stretch the lead to 36-0.
The Thunderbolts finally etched their name onto the scoreboard when winger Nat McGavin found space down the left touchline and drifted infield to find an unmarked Scott Drinkwater.
Right centre Jacob Tonge found the line on the stroke of half-time to hand the 'Bolts some momentum heading into the second half down 36-12.
Melbourne scored again eight minutes after the break when Jordon Remfrey collected a clever grubber kick to plant the ball under the posts to take the score to 36-18.
However, two tries within the space of three minutes to centre Gehamat Shibasaki and halfback Burns further stamped Brisbane's dominance on the contest as they now led 46-18 with 21 minutes remaining.
A 67th-minute converted try to Jesse Arthars narrowed the deficit slightly for the home side, but a further four tries before fulltime took the final score out to 68-24 in favour of the Broncos.
The Thunderbolts will now turn their attention towards their last game of the season against the Sharks at home next Saturday afternoon.
"We'll definitely be looking at improvements next week and that (Sharks) match will be the last time some of these guys get to wear the Storm colours so you'd like to think that's going to motivate those players," Smith said.
"We want to finish strongly for our home crowd – they've been really good at getting behind us this year and they deserve a better performance than we delivered today."
Brisbane Broncos NYC 68 (Kalolo Saitaua 3, Sam Smith 2, Gerome Burns 2, Tristan Hope, Gehamat Shibasaki, David Fauid, Sam Elliott, Corey Allan tries; Gerome Burns 10 goals) defeated Melbourne Thunderbolts 24 (Scott Drinkwater, Jacob Tonge, Jordon Remfrey, Jesse Arthars tries; Jesse Arthars 3, Scott Drinkwater goals) at Sunshine Coast Stadium. Half-time: Broncos 36-12.