Returning Reynolds haunts Rabbitohs as Broncos bound into top eight with third straight win

Adam Reynolds made a triumphant return to Accor Stadium, masterminding Brisbane Broncos to a 32-12 victory over his old club, South Sydney.

Reynolds was conductor-in-chief, scoring a try, kicking six from six and hitting over 500m in kicking metres. It would be no exaggeration to suggest that the difference between the teams was the number 7: the difference between Reynolds, a wily veteran, and Lachlan Ilias, a talented rookie, was written all over Accor Stadium.

In Round 1, when these two last met, Reynolds had missed out, stuck in Covid isolation. There was a strong argument that Brisbane had been lucky to win that night. There was no luck in this performance: they were better in every department.

As a team, the Broncos put on a performance that could not have been more perfectly designed to get the best out of their half: they completed high, allowing Reynolds’ kicking to come to the fore, and defended with the enthusiasm that gave them a platform to attack.

Souths were plagued by the same issues that have followed them around all year. Their attack is beyond clunky, with poor shape, a completion rate below 70% and far too many errors. While the Bunnies’ did not help themselves with ball in hand, plenty could be attributed to the line speed of the Broncos.

They had triple the number of play the balls in the opposing 20m zone, but regularly failed to make the most of their possession. When the attack fired, it was often met with dogged resistance, with several superb scramble tackles.

The kicking was the key for the Broncos throughout and created the first try as Reynolds kicked and Corey Oates rose far above Blake Taaffe to give the Broncos a deserved lead.

The Broncos had opened the scoring, but their defence was saving them just as many points at the other end. Taane Milne would have scored but for a decisive late play at the football from Herbie Farnworth to save the try. Kobe Hetherington then denied another try with a superb hit on Jai Arrow that dislodged the ball.

Souths were losing the ruck and allowing too many cheap metres from offloads. Selwyn Cobbo had gone close off a play that seemed halted, only to burst back into life with the winder slaloming through static defenders.

The breakthrough was coming, and it was the returning star to provide it on the half hour mark.

South Sydney’s problems with the second phase continued. They failed to stop Thomas Flegler in his tracks, and when he offloaded to Patrick Carrigan, the Bunnies also failed to cover the ball. Reynolds, ever alert, was on hand to take the ball under the sticks.

Brisbane had banked the points and continued to back it up with the defence. When, again, it looked like the dam had been breached, a miracle try saver was found, TC Robati stripping the ball from from Taaffe on this occasions.

The Broncos’ valiant rearguard had seen them soak up five repeat sets on their line, and with time running down on the half, it was always likely to crack. When it did, it was the same move that had gone so close before: this time, Farnworth was nowhere to be seen as Milne got the Bunnies on the board.

Taaffe’s poor night under the high ball continued. Reynolds was again the architect, with a high kick prompting the mistake. Selwyn Cobbo was there to grab the four points.

Te Maire Martin was feeling as generous as Taaffe. He dropped a Cody Walker bomb and gifted field position to the Bunnies, who struck straight back through Milne.

Reynolds couldn’t be kept out of the game. He kicked a penalty goal – the Broncos’ first of the year – before putting Oates through a hole, from which he fed Farnworth to score.

The Bunnies promoted the football in attack, but couldn’t find any timing and presented few defensive problems to the Broncos.

Eventually, Walker pushed it too far and juggled to Cobbo, who showed impressive toe to run 90m and put the result beyond doubt.

With just three minutes remaining, captain Cameron Murray dropped a ball cold in the shadow of the Broncos sticks. It was as good a metaphor as one could wish for.

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