In the opening game of NRL Round 5 the Broncos shocked everyone by racing out to an 18 point lead inside 30 minutes, only to be run down by Manly in the second half courtesy of two Tom Trbojevic try assists, with the Sea Eagles finishing 20-18 winners.
It couldn't have been a worse opening set for the Broncos after Brodie Croft kicked out on the full leaving fans of the struggling Brisbane side thinking "here we go again." But any thought of last week's horror show repeating itself was stamped out after young gun Xavier Coates plucked the ball out of the air - not for the last time in the game - and got it to Kotoni Staggs who grubbered for himself and scored in his first game back.
The Broncos waited 10 more minutes for their second 4 pointer and this time it was Coates doing it all himself, out-leaping debutant winger Tevita Funa to score his second try in the NRL, putting the Broncos out to an unlikely 12 point lead. Based on the first half alone, Funa will be having nightmares about Coates for weeks.
Manly then had a golden opportunity to get back into it with 3 consecutive sets on the Broncos line, however the pressure was relieved when Sean Keppie knocked on with his first touch of the game, giving the Broncos some new found confidence in their defence.
Darius Boys went over shortly after, completing a simple sweep play and opting not to pass to his outside man. Backing himself proved to be the right option as he ran over the top of rep fullback Trbojevic, sending the Broncos 18 points clear after 29 minutes and shocking the Rugby League world.
Manly were able to crucially get one back on Brisbane 4 minutes out from half time, with Funa making up for his poor showing under the high ball and strolling over off the back of a beautiful Trbjoevic ball. This got Manly within 14 after Reuben Garrick missed his conversion attempt from out wide, but the important thing was Manly were on the board after the first haf.
It took the Sea Eagles just 4 minutes in the second half to further the comeback, with Daly Cherry-Evans taking the line on off a Dylan Walker short ball and exposing a gap in the Broncos line, reducing the gap to 8 points. From this moment on, Manly began playing a more expansive brand of footy, however a pass in the first set after points to Brad Parker in space was ruled forward.
There's no doubt Manly were getting the rub of the green, the penalty count finishing 12-2 their way, however you can't blame that for the poor Broncos defence that let Moses Suli go over in the 56th minute. It was like a training run for the Sea Eagles, who created a 3-on-1 overlap that saw Suli stroll over for the easiest try he'll ever score. All of the sudden the Broncos were only up by 2 with 23 minutes to go.
Manly were given the opportunity to level up after Coates was ruled to have ran an escort on Joel Thompson, gifting the Sea Eagles two points and deadlocking the scores with just over 15 to go. Staggs looked to have swung momentum back Brisbane's way when he wrapped up Trbjoevic 5 metres out form his own line, however he ruined it by giving away a penalty for not being square at marker.
Manly attempted to go one up in the resulting set but Cherry-Evans missed the shot, however his side retained possession due to a Bronco hand getting involved. A controversial decision to award Manly a penalty due to Patrick Carrigan having his hand in the ruck handed them the lead for the first time with 10 to go.
That was all she wrote but the Broncos were not without their chances, Coates looked destined for the line in the final minute but some Tom Trbojevic cover defence made sure that didn't happen.
The Broncos turn their attention to the in form Knights next week at the same ground of Central Coast Stadium again on a Thursday night, while Manly prepare for a Sunday afternoon blockbuster against the Raiders.