Broncos beat Sharks in cruise mode - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Broncos beat Sharks in cruise mode

Wayne Heming 29/07/2011 10:33:57 PM Comments (0)

Classy centre Justin Hodges returned to his dangerous best with a hat-trick of tries as Brisbane smashed Cronulla 46-16 in their NRL clash at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

Hodges was at times almost impossible to handle with his big left-foot step and massive fend, that at one stage sent Sharks fullback Nathan Gardner flying five metres backwards.

He made 15 tackle breaks for the match.

Coach Anthony Griffin wisely pulled his skipper Darren Lockyer from the field after he set up Brisbane's seventh try with a deft left foot chip kick which bounced beautifully for Hodges.

Brisbane had the game in the bag leading 34-6 after a white hot opening 40 minutes in which they crossed for six tries.

The Sharks took the field without inspirational skipper Paul Gallen (calf) but even his presence would have done little to stop a rampant Broncos who looked ready to go from the first minute.

At one stage Brisbane were scoring at a point a minute leading 22-0 after 20 minutes.

Five of Brisbane's first seven tries came down Cronulla's left side with coach Shane Flanagan appearing to hook left centre Colin Best in the 59th minute.

It took Cronulla, who looked off the pace in the opening 20 minutes, 39 minutes to get on the scoreboard after last weekend going 80 minutes against Newcastle with scoring.

Nippy halfback Chad Townsend arrived just in time to ground a Wade Graham grubber for the Sharks to trail by 28 points at half time.

To their credit Cronulla matched Brisbane in the second half with tries to centre Matthew Wright and stand-in skipper Jeremy Smith, although with such a big lead the Broncos had gone off the boil.

The 30 point win edged Brisbane back into fourth place over North Queensland, who must now beat Penrith at Dairy Farmers by more than eight points to hold their top four spot.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan ripped into his players after the loss accusing them failing to respect the football and the quality of the opposition.

"We completed our first set but then it was just error after error," he said.

"There was an error, a try, an error, a try ..."

Conversely, Broncos coach Anthony Griffin was upbeat despite Brisbane conceding two second-half tries.

"Conceding 16 points wasn't something I wanted to see after that start," he said, referring to Brisbane's 34-6 halftime lead.

"But that's as good as we could be (first half). The focus tonight was to improve on what we did against Melbourne last week and I think we did that."

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