Wayne Bennett admits Brisbane’s poor kicking game came back to haunt them in Friday’s 12-10 defeat to St George Illawarra at Kogarah Oval.
In an arm wrestle of a game the Dragons held off a late flurry of pressure from the Broncos to secure a fifth straight NRL win, condemning Bennett’s side to their first loss since round one.
A magnificent 40-20 from hooker Andrew McCullough late in the game put the visitors in great field position but an inability to win a repeat set following a poor kick by halfback Ben Hunt allowed the Dragons to wriggle free.
That danger wasn’t completely averted by the Dragons who immediately turned over the ball when Leeson Ah Mau knocked on early in the set, but once again the Broncos lacked the composure to administer the knock-out punch from close range and the game was lost.
“It’s not our strong suit, it’s got to be better,” Bennett said of his side’s kicking game.
“It’s getting better but we put ourself under too much pressure sometimes because we don’t complete the set.
“Good teams don’t do that. But we are getting better.”
“It’s well and good carrying the ball for all of those yards, but it’s what you do with it. We want to be one of the top teams.”
In contrast to the Broncos the kicking game of Dragons five-eighth Gareth Widdop was outstanding and Brisbane skipper Justin Hodges admitted it was the difference between the two sides.
“It’s always hard with him and Benji (Marshall), you don’t know where they are going to kick the ball,” Hodges said.
“You don’t know where they are going to kick the ball. Their kicks were great and it hurt us.”
The representative centre limped off again with a recurrence of his hamstring injury.
His cause not helped by having to slot in at fullback due to the Broncos lengthy injury list in the position with young utility Kodi Nikorima having to fill the custodian role.
Bennett said the upcoming break for representative week cannot come soon enough.
“We got to our fifth choice fullback at halftime that is where we’re at,” Bennett said.
“Darius Boyd is our number one, Jordan Kahu number two, Lachlan Maranta number three, Justin Hodges number four and Kodi number five.
“We just need to get some guys back.”