Broncos unleash teenage monster in upset win over Rabbitohs

So impressive was the Brisbane behemoth, Phil Gould labelled it as a "birth of a superstar" in television commentary. It's pretty hard to argue, even from the limited evidence at hand.

"He wasnt bad for a first time," Bennett said. "Youve got to get your kids ready at some stage and youve got to start the process.

"Obviously Paynes going to be an NRL player for a long time and its about giving him a game and managing that as well as I can. I dont want him to get ahead of himself."

Three times the Rabbitohs shook off the Broncos to take the lead at various stages, but when Corey Oates capped an impressive night with a brilliant solo try mid-way through the second half Brisbane didn't let the lead slip.

John Sutton's late try set up a nervy final five minutes, but the Rabbitohs were left to rue a flat period after the break and Burgess' second suspension in a month.

"Our attention to detail wasnt quite what it should be," said Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold, who confessed he feared Richie Kennar's season might be cut short with a long-term foot injury.

"We talk about building pressure and effort … and we didnt see that tonight, particularly in the second half.

"Weve felt that weve improved [over the first eight weeks]. Weve showed signs of our potential and the last five weeks Ive been relatively happy. Weve been building steadily, be we took a step back tonight."

NSW No.9 hopeful Damien Cook answered Cameron McInnes' Anzac Day feats with another impressive display – albeit clouded with a couple of errors – as Jack Bird showed no immediate signs of breaking out of an early season funk.

The Broncos might have been messing with a few minds when they named Bird in the No.7 and Anthony Milford in the No.6, but the only mind they need to sort out is their marquee recruit.

An out-of-sorts Bird, touted by Andrew Johns no less as James Maloney's sidekick for NSW, grassed a routine Adam Reynolds kick for Cody Walker to grab first points.

Brisbane's response was swift, but moreso scintillating. Just like his ex-accomplice Ben Hunt did on Anzac Day, Milford dared to run on the last play and after a mesmerising exchange of passes featuring Oates the rangy winger toed ahead for Darius Boyd to score.

But the other half of the most potent State of Origin edge played a major hand in restoring Souths' buffer, Inglis shovelling the ball out the back on a set play for ANZ Stadium specialist Alex Johnston to race over.

The man Bird has replaced in the starting side, Kodi Nikorima, looked Brisbane's most potent once sent into the fray and didn't need long in the second half to make up for what he thought might have been an injustice in the first.

Having been adjudged to have not grounded the ball under a desperate Johnston tackle before the break, Nikorima split Walker and Sutton to bring the visitors level within the first eight minutes of the second stanza.

Reynolds potted a penalty to send the Rabbitohs to the lead for a third time, but it lasted a matter of minutes as Oates brushed past several feeble attempts to swing the momentum firmly in favour of Bennett's men.


Milford astutely kicked for James Roberts to pad the lead before Sutton's late salvo, but cruelly Inglis threw an intercept to Sam Thaiday to snuff out the Rabbitohs' revival in his milestone match.

On Bird, Bennett said: "I thought it was his best game for us. It still wasnt to where we want him. He can play a lot better than that.

"When youre out of form and struggling youve got to start somewhere and he did that tonight. I thought [after he dropped first ball] well see what hes made of now, but he handled himself well after that."

Brisbane Broncos 24 (Darius Boyd, Kodi Nikorima, Corey Oates, James Roberts tries; Jamayne Isaako 4 goals) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 20 (Cody Walker, Alex Johnston, John Sutton tries; Adam Reynolds 4 goals)at ANZ Stadium. Referees: Ben Cummins, Peter Gough. Crowd: 11,123.

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Adam Pengilly

Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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