Legendary soccer coach Sir Alex Ferguson once said “attack wins you games – defence wins you titles”.
It’s a philosophy Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett appears to be applying to his Broncos as they charge towards the NRL premiership.
In Saturday’s second qualifying final, the Broncos secured a 16-12 victory at Suncorp Stadium despite spending most of the game desperately repelling North Queensland.
The Broncos reached halftime with an 8-2 lead despite the Cowboys having 21 tackles in their opponent’s 20 to just one for the home team.
Time and again, a Cowboys attack led by one of the greatest playmakers the game has seen in Johnathan Thurston couldn’t find a way through the resolute defending of Bennett’s men.
In the first half, pivot Anthony Milford epitomised that effort when he stepped into a Cowboys overlap to deny the visitors a certain four-pointer.
The trend continued in the second half, and a blue and white tide swept towards the Broncos’ tryline in the game’s dying moments.
A moment of Thurston-inspired magic did break the Broncos wall to set up a grandstand finish but, as they have for most of their impressive season, Brisbane’s defenders refused to cave against a Cowboys team which has the best second-half record in the competition.
“They defended really well,” an exasperated Thurston told the Nine Network.
“We just bombed a couple of tries there in the first half that were telling … just weren’t good enough in the end.”
It’s not always pretty, but as Ferguson – and Bennett – will tell you, it is the recipe to winning titles.