Broncos hold ladder lead with big defence

After overseeing more than 700 top level games Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett hailed his team’s defensive display in their 14-12 win over Melbourne in the top two.

The Broncos held on to the NRL competition ladder lead after a courageous performance at AAMI Park.

They were forced into a mammoth 11 goal-line drop-outs and 385 tackles but barely cracked in a gripping match.

“We weren’t pretty in some things we did with the football but we were magnificent in defence,” Bennett said.

“If you’re not going to play good with the ball then you’ve got to defend and we were prepared to do that and that’s what I like about them.

“I’ve seen a lot of great defence in my time … how do you categorise it – if you want to put it in the grand final of something it definitely is.”

Stand-in skipper Sam Thaiday said some of his teammates were so tired they could barely manage the club song in the dressing room post match.

Hooker Andrew McCullough led the tackle count with 56 tackles.

Both teams were missing key players through injury and some were rested following Wednesday’s State of Origin.

Melbourne were without injured duo Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk while Maroons Corey Parker and Justin Hodges sat out.

Without Slater and Cronk the Storm lacked finishing finesse.

They had 59 per cent of possession and 69 per cent of territory, dominating everywhere except on the scoreboard.

“We had enough ball to win three games,” Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.

“We had a thousand line drop-outs but we just lacked a bit of polish through a couple of stages of our sets.

“The Broncos defended really well and we made it easy for them on occasion.”

Storm halfback Blake Green set up his team’s 12-8 halftime lead with two clever tries, but the home side was unable to add to the tally.

The Broncos scored one of the tries of the season in the first half through Jack Reed.

They shifted the ball across the field and back through a number of freakish passes before finding the centre.

Brisbane hit the front in the 52nd minute after a try by Corey Oates, that was set up by a perfect kick through by five-eighth Anthony Milford.

That was converted from the sideline by Jordan Kahu, who had missed two previously.

The Storm threw everything at Brisbane and looked like they would get across in the final seconds through Felice Kaufusi, but for a stunning ball and all tackle by Matt Parcell.

Bennett said it typified the effort of the team.

“It was a huge play and he had to make it,” he said.

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