Here we go again: Second-half siestas still haunt Broncos
Brisbane coach Kevin Walters must fix the Broncos' horrendous second-half siestas after watching his side sensationally capitulate in Saturday night's 34-18 trial loss to the Cowboys at Dolphin Stadium.
The joy of Broncos skipper Alex Glenn's testimonial trial turned to tears as Brisbane botched an 18-6 half-time lead, leaking five second-half tries in a worrying throwback to last season's repeated fadeouts.
Brisbane made a terrible habit of starting strongly in games before losing the plot after half-time and their lack of mental toughness reared its head again as the Cowboys posted 28 unanswered points.
Watching on before 9932 fans, Walters' blood pressure would have risen with every second-half blunder as Cowboys halves Michael Morgan and Jake Clifford orchestrated a fine comeback in the all-Queensland derby trial.
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Brisbane enter the 2021 premiership as wooden spooners. If they want to climb out of the doghouse, Walters accepts they must plug the holes in defence for their season opener against the Eels on March 12.
"We had to draw a line in the sand to find out where we are, so we found out where we are," Walters said.
"I got something out of it ... we had to start somewhere.
"I want to see some resilience to get through our sets and hold the ball.
"It was a terrific first 40 minutes and not so good in the second 40.
"There's plenty to work on, but I'm walking away confident the Broncos will have a good season."
For the opening 40 minutes, the Broncos looked slick and quick.
With Jamayne Isaako in fine touch at fullback, the Broncos charged out of the blocks, the Kiwi Test star setting up two tries in the opening 14 minutes to give Brisbane a 12-0 lead.
And when Brodie Croft put Jake Turpin over just before the break with an excellent around-the-corner pass, the Broncos looked in total control at 18-6.
Enter the dreaded second-half car crash.
Seemingly down and out, the Cowboys gradually built pressure, with tries to Kyle Feldt (50th minute) and Valentine Holmes (54th) edging North Queensland within touching distance.
Then Morgan terrorised the Broncos, slotting through a sublime grubber kick for Mitch Dunn (59th minute) to give the Cowboys a 22-18 lead before they buried Brisbane with two late tries.
After three bottom-four finishes, new Cowboys coach Todd Payten is determined to inject a fresher attacking and defensive edge. He was rapt with his side's ability to hold their nerve under pressure as hooker Jake Granville ignited a second-half riposte with his renewed thrust around the rucks.
"It's encouraging signs," he said. "I saw a bit of belief and resilience and they stuck at it. It's a good sign. That wasn't a strength of ours last year but we rolled down the park well and kept putting pressure on their middle."
Broncos duo Tom Flegler (shoulder) and Jesse Arthars (ankle) suffered injuries, while John Asiata was put on report in the 26th minute for a lifting tackle.
Originally published as Here we go again: Second-half siestas still haunt Broncos