Brisbane have their 2016 NRL campaign off to a winning start with a conservative 17-4 win over a Parramatta outfit, missing star recruit Kieran Foran, in Thursday night’s season opener.
Broncos winger Corey Oates was a first-half star, scoring one try and setting up another as last year’s grand finalists cantered to a 14-4 lead at the break.
Eels playmaker Corey Norman then failed to come out of the sheds, having landed on his neck in a legal but awkward Josh McGuire tackle just before halftime.
He didn’t return.
In front of an expectant crowd of 17,324 at Pirtek Stadium, Foran’s pre-game withdrawal left Auckland Nines hero Norman as the hosts’ lone threat in a trying opening 40 minutes.
He was crucial in setting up their first points of the season to Clinton Gutherson.
But without their first-choice pair, the Eels were rudderless with the ball in the second half, back-up Luke Kelly and fill-in Kenny Edwards struggling to find any gaps in an organised Broncos defence.
Still, Parramatta kept turning up with impressive defence to restrict the Broncos to just a penalty goal and a field goal in the second half.
At one stage, Michael Jennings almost came up with a try in his club debut but the referees’ bunker – also on debut – correctly and swiftly ruled double movement.
But the visitors showed why they’re the competition favourites, seeing off a number of raids on their tryline to secure the victory.
Earlier, Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford finished off an early entry for highlight of the season, completing a 60-metre try that began with a Corey Parker offload and included a chip ahead from Oates.
Jordan Kahu nabbed the opening try of the season before succumbing to a quad injury in the first half.