Milford the man as Broncos outlast Warriors
Anthony Milford continued to push his Origin claims with a starring role in Brisbane's absorbing 8-2 victory over the Warriors.
In a finals-style slugfest at Mt Smart, Milford's attacking X-factor proved the difference, scoring the only try - a 60th-minute solo match-winner to help the Broncos to their third consecutive victory.
With scores locked 2-all and both sides defending like demons, Milford unlocked the Warriors. Taking the ball 10 metres out from the tryline, he unleashed the class, speed and fast feet that sent an emphatic message to Queensland Origin coach Kevin Walters.
The Maroons name their side for Origin I tomorrow and Milford has to be seriously considered for the No.14 utility slot after conjuring the type of play last night that could bust open an Origin contest.
The Warriors should have won this game on the score of possession, but the Broncos defended magnificently - then had the offensive trump card in $1 million man Milford to sucker-punch the hosts.
While Milford was equally classy with the boot, he received fine support from front-rower Payne Haas, who charged for 204 metres to all-but seal a maiden NSW jumper at age 19 for Origin I.
"That's where 'Milf' is most dangerous ... if he thinks run first and pass second, that's a good way for him to play," Broncos coach Anthony Seibold said.
"I'm sure he could be good for Queensland. Milf has been really good for us the last two or three weeks."
It was a crucial triumph for the Broncos, who are building momentum with four wins from their past five games. And with a bye this weekend, their 5-6 record suddenly moves Brisbane within striking distance of the top eight.
The only downside for the Broncos was centre Kotoni Staggs being placed on report in the 28th minute for a high shot on former teammate Kodi Nikorima.
In a willing affair, the defensive application of the Broncos was lion-hearted.
That the Broncos managed to level scores 2-all at half-time thanks to a Jamayne Isaako penalty after the siren was a tribute to Brisbane's spirit without the ball.
By rights, the Warriors should have gone to the sheds leading by two tries. The hosts had at least four promising tryscoring opportunities in the first half, but Brisbane's tryline defence, oozing desperation, simply refused to crack.
Seibold lauded the defensive heart of his troops, led by hooker Jake Turpin, who was the poster boy for Brisbane's resilience with some stinging midfield shots.
"We just kept turning up for each other in defence," he said.
"I'm all about effort, we just want more Broncos jerseys in the picture, it's about working for your mate."
The second half became of battle of wills, but as the Warriors screamed for a match-winner to land the knockout blow, it was Milford who put them on the canvas.
BRISBANE 8 (A Milford try J Isaako 2 goals) bt NZ WARRIORS 2 (P Herbert goal) at Mt Smart Stadium. Referee: Ashley Klein, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski. Crowd: 17,495