BRISBANE coach Anthony Griffin called it a “messy” performance from a team “down on confidence” – and he wasn’t interested in saying much at all about the semi-finals.
But while Griffin preferred to look backwards at Petero Civoniceva’s last Suncorp Stadium appearance, a similarly reticent Civoniceva was only inclined to talk about the future. There were mixed messages from the Broncos during the 19-12 win over Penrith – and it was exactly the same afterwards.
“We’ll worry about that next week,” Griffin said when asked if his side could cause damage in the finals. And he added nothing until he was asked another question.
“We’ll be a chanced next week – it was a big night for Petro tonight. We did what we had to do. I think it was important we recognise his achievements.”
But when Civoniceva was asked about his own memories from a night that ended with thousands of people honouring him on the field, as he and team-mates sat in a roped off area and he was interviewed on a makeshift stage, he said: “That wasn’t my focus … it was about how we were going to play tonight as a team.
“We knew we had to turn up in the right frame of mind … obviously it’s very humbling, the crowd support out there tonight but I guess my thoughts are just about this team and where we’re heading now this week.”
Griffin clearly didn’t think this was a performance on which to base predictions of any type for the month ahead. Brisbane will play North Queensland, Cronulla or Manly on the opening weekend of the finals. But he was willing to pick apart a nervous and inconsistent display which saw the Broncos trail 6-0 at halftime before snapping a six-match losing streak.
“We were very messy,” he said. “We were trying to go around them, trying to get things done before we had the right to but we kept ourselves in the game defensively …. and we clicked a little int he second half which was nice.
“It’s been a pretty tough four weeks. For about a month now, we’ve been playing pretty well but haven;t been able to get a victory. I think the boys are just a little bit down on confidence but once we got that first try, we probably dominated the rest of the game there.
“I know how hard they’ve been working and how desperate they are as a group to try and get things right. We got ourselves into a bit of a twist and sometimes it’s hard getting yourself out of it. Penrith played their best game of football for the season.
“In the end, they just refused to lose. You just felt early in the game, they were a little bit lost. We’ve just got to relax a bit with the ball and build pressure. We’ve had to fight hard to get out of this and we’ve done that now.”
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary thought reserve Mitch Achurch being held up just before halftime was the turning point in the round 26 contest. “There were times there that our motivation was tested – and we did well,” he said.
The uncertainty in the Broncos camp was probably best summed up when Civoniceva was asked what area they needed to improve on, he said: “We’ll just enjoy the moment now and when we get in on Monday, we’ll be ready to go.”
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD