Broncos depleted

MANLY halfback Matt Orford gave NSW selectors a none too subtle reminder of his ability with a starring role in his side's 18-6 win over an Origin-depleted Brisbane at Brookvale Oval last night. Orford, overlooked for Origin I in favour of Newcastle youngster Jarrod Mullen, had a hand in three of his side's four tries as the Sea Eagles joined ladder leaders Melbourne on 18 competition points ahead of their meeting on Saturday night. Winger Nick Bradley-Qualilawa scored a double for the home side in his first game of the season with Jason King and Anthony Watmough the other Manly tryscorers. The undermanned Broncos, who now have just three wins from their opening ten games, were always going to struggle to match the high-flying Sea Eagles. But despite taking to the field without seven players in camp with the Queensland Origin side and Test forward Sam Thaiday on the sidelines with a fractured eye socket, Brisbane battled until the final minute with an effort that would have pleased coach Wayne Bennett. They may have also unearthed a new star in 20-year-old fullback Denan Kemp, who punctuated an impressive debut with a sensational 75 metre try which saw him beat five defenders. The Sea Eagles looked like running away with the game with two tries in the opening 13 minutes, Orford finding a chink in the Broncos depleted armour to put Bradley-Qualilawa over after some great scrambling defence from the visitors. Orford then turned to the boot to set up King for his four-pointer with a pin-pint grubber which hit the upright. The Broncos regained their composure and threatened the Sea Eagles line, but were let down by poor options on the last tackle with halfback Shane Perry having an ordinary night with the boot. The Sea Eagles extended their lead four minutes after the restart when an Orford switch of play gave Bradley-Qualilawa a narrow passage down the right hand touchline before Anthony Watmough took it out to 18-0. With the play looking like it had broken down, Watmough performed an acrobatic forward roll to spin out of a Brad Thorn tackle before powering his way over, Thorn's misery was compounded when he was placed on report for a lifting tackle on King in the lead-up to the try.



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