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The Sydney Morning Herald

BRONCOS SNUFF OUT THE PARTY CANDLES

Author: IAN HEADS
Date: 26/09/1993
Words: 957
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Sport
Page: 42
The Brisbane Broncos not only spoiled Sydney's party yesterday, they also did terminal damage to a couple of the footballing canards that fans delight in discussing in pubs.

By cruising to the premiership last year, the Broncos pretty well got rid of the one about the alleged serious disadvantage borne by the team having the double "break" in a finals series.

Further myths toppled yesterday.

Firstly, a popularly held belief that the Broncos are a brittle side defensively has now been placed in the "closed" file.

In the last two hours of football played in the 1993 premiership - the second 40 minutes in last week's final and yesterday's pressure packed 80 minutes - Brisbane did not concede a try.

Secondly, the theory that the wear and tear factor is simply too much to permit a team to win from fourth or fifth on the ladder. Canberra undermined that one in 1989, and the Broncos buried it for good yesterday.

Rugby league's 52nd grand final was no classic. But it did feature a great football side.

The game's honour roll records that only teams of outstanding quality win back-to-back premierships, and after yesterday's emphatic victory Brisbane's name can be confidently engraved under that heading.

There could be no argument when Wayne Bennett declared afterwards: "It's a remarkable team I've got here."

The chilling thought for the other 15 teams to contemplate as they head into the summer break (if there is a break these days) is that the Broncos are already hell- bent on lifting their game for 1994.

"If we don't go away and try to improve our organisation for next year, they'll catch up to us," Brisbane chief executive John Ribot told interviewers.

Ribot and coach Bennett are booked for an overseas study tour to pick up the latest winning trends.

In yesterday's spoiling, slogging finale to the season the Broncos, for most of it anyway, seemed more focused and better organised than the off-key Saints.

The razzle-dazzle that marks the Broncos' style at its best was only there in patches - and that a tribute to the generally sturdy St George defence.

Nevertheless, it was an immensely strong and professional performance from the defending premiers.

On the scoreboard St George drew closer (14-6 yesterday against 28-8 last year).

Yet the punters who took the 11-8 on about the Broncos were surely never too worried about getting the cash after the Saints had wrong-footed themselves with that blundering first-half display - although there was a momentary blanching when Saints sneaked back to 10-6.

"I think the game got to us a bit," said Clive Churchill medal winner Brad Mackay later. "Everyone was trying to do too much too soon."

Grand final day 1993 seemed curiously flat at times, despite the appearance of leather-clad Tina Turner leading the congregation in Simply the Best and despite the Olympic euphoria circulating in the stadium - that latter nicely fanned by the half-time proceedings.

Chances are that numerous women in the long queues at the SFS's inadequate toilets would have missed one or other of those events.

The problem of the day was that the magic third leg of yesterday's trifecta scripted to join the Olympics and Tina T - a St George win - never seemed destined to get up, with bad vibes there for the red and white army from the opening minute when prop forward Jason Stevens suffered his painful injury.

Even controversy was in short supply, though referee Greg McCallum found himself with the task of dealing with a swarm of high - though not lethal -tackles which had blown in on the spring breeze.

Most debate surrounded the awarding of the Churchill medal to St George's Mackay.

I wouldn't argue with the distinguished panel of Reg Gasnier, John Raper, Bobby Fulton and Don Furner - though try-maker Kevin Walters must have run Mackay horribly close. I thought Mackay had a whale of a game.

St George, deflated by a first- half performance that coach Brian Smith called "a little short of ordinary", can still take pride in their 1993 achievement - and hope for the future.

That hope is embodied in young men such as Gorden Tallis, who came confidently into the game and promptly added sting to the attack and defence.

"If we stick together I'm sure we'll come up with a premiership", said Mackay, reflecting the buoyant spirit that lives in one of the proudest football clubs.

But the fact is that the Winfield Cup and the J J Giltinan Shield have travelled north again.

Wayne Bennett's confident, slick, tough outfit are the pacesetters of the 90s, and may well stay in that role for seasons to come.

The feeling was there throughout 1993 that once the Broncos got their act together they would emerge as the best team.

Over the past four weeks Allan Langer and the men of Brisbane have done exactly that.

 
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