NRL round four: MELBOURNE 32 BRISBANE 26 at Suncorp Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

BRISBANE captain Sam Thaiday said he was demonstrating what rival Bryan Norrie had done to him when he grabbed referee Adam Devcich by the shirt in the high-scoring loss to Melbourne on Friday night.
In an ultimately crucial incident, Thaiday claimed to have been held in a scrum by Norrie while the Storm’s Gareth Widdop put Billy Slater away for one of the three tries that put him in the all-time top 10 during the Storm’s six-point victory.
“I was just showing him what (Norrie) did,” Thaiday said, when told about a photograph of him grabbing Devcich.
“It’s tough. In that situation, that’s where I’d be, that’s where I’d be chasing. Being held back and stopped from doing my job is pretty tough
“To see the green light come around on the big screen is pretty disappointing as well. It was the front rower, Norrie.” Asked about the tactic, Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy replied: “I could sort of understand – a little bit – where he (Thaiday) was coming from. I think they were still packed, weren’t they? They go in there for a rest, the front rowers.
“That’s the way things roll. We got a couple of scratchy calls last week so …. some of them are grey areas. Sometimes it goes one way, sometimes it goes the other.”
Somehow, Brisbane managed to lead against an otherwise white-hot Melbourne for nine minutes. In doing so, a loss may have turned around a season that was promising less and less.
It’s a situation that looked inconceivable at half-time, when Anthony Griffin’s Broncos trailed 20-6 and looked certain to receive a smacking in front of 40,071 home fans.
Centre Justin Hodges had withdrawn before kick-off, replaced by youngster Jordan Kahu. But after the Broncos’ right winger, Lachlan Maranta, went close to scoring in one corner, the other flanker, Josh Hoffman, posted his second try in the other with Scott Prince converting. Another three minutes passed and centre Jack Reed forced his way over on the left and Prince goaled again. Melbourne led by just two.
Hoffman completed his hat-trick after creative play from fullback Corey Norman and a quick ball from Reed with 27 minutes to go. Brisbane were actually in front, having scored 16 unanswered points.
It didn’t last.
Billy Slater defied superlatives with a magnificent leap to claim a Cooper Cronk bomb and score next to the posts. Winger Matt Duffie then completed a sizzling movement to give the visitors a 10-point lead.
But a contest which had threatened to be little more than an exhibition had become a spectacle. Brisbane pegged one back with Alex Glenn’s score heading into the final five.
Bellamy said it was “disappointing to lose a grip on it like that …. we weren’t quite with it with our defence … it’s the end of a long month for us, I can probably cut them a little bit of slack there.
“We needed a couple of things out of the ordinary to get out of this game.”
He said his team’s right-side defence was “an issue”.
Griffin told journalists: “I’ve got no questions on our character and our attitude. Those questions have been coming from you guys. There were no concerns in our four walls.
“It’s frustrating we got ourselves in a position to win and couldn’t close it down.’
Brisbane winger Josh Hoffman (achilles) and forward David Stagg (knee) picked up injuries which are likely to sideline them for several weeks.
Griffin continued: “They scored some freakish tries. That’s the disappointing thing. They don’t get much better than that. We can sit here and pat ourselves on the back and say it was a good effort but in the end, we’ve got to win those games.”
Thaiday summed up the Broncos’ situation by saying “we’re catching the switch – we haven’t flicked it yet”.

MELBOURNE 32 (B Slater 3 M Duffie 2 J Sau tries C Smith 4 goals) bt BRISBANE 26 (J Hoffman 3 A Glenn J Reed tries S Prince 3 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referees: JMaxwell/A Devcich. Crowd: 40,071.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

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