|Match Date||23rd May, 2003|
|Venue||Homebush (Telstra Stadium)|
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett said last night that Broncos halfback Shaun Berrigan would never replace Allan Langer. But after his performance against the Bulldogs, he doesn't have to.
The man with arguably the biggest boots to fill in rugby league set up his side's first two tries and scored their third as the Broncos shut out the Dogs 24-0 before 25,673 fans at Telstra Stadium last night.
Taking the quality of the opposition into account, it was one of the most impressive performances by a team this year - and there can be no doubt Berrigan has now made the Broncos' No.7 jersey his own.
His next challenge will be doing the same with Langer's Maroon State of Origin shirt.
"In terms of good players, he'll never be Allan Langer - there'll only be one Allan Langer - but he's scoring tries, creating opportunities and, defensively, he's very, very good," Bennett said after the four-tries-to-nil win.
It was the first time in two years - and 48 games - that the Bulldogs had been held scoreless. Canberra were the last team to achieve the feat, on June 2, 2001, at the Sydney Showground.
"Players like Alfie only come along every 100 years," said Berrigan, who partnered Langer in the halves at the Broncos last year.
"Wayne has never put pressure on me to be another Allan Langer - I'm a completely different player. I played five-eighth last year but the more I play halfback, the more I enjoy it."
Playing to keep their share of the competition lead with the Raiders, Bennett's men waited for errors from the Bulldogs and then punished the Belmore side ruthlessly with tries to five-eighth Ben Ikin, fullback Darren Lockyer, Berrigan and centre Brent Tate.
Thrilling conquerors of the Roosters two weeks ago at Homebush Bay, the Bulldogs were never really given a sniff by the Broncos, who repeatedly repelled the desperate blue-and-whites in the second half with some of the best defence seen this year.
Brisbane led 12-0 at the end of an absorbing first 40 minutes in which they exploited both their tryscoring opportunities.
The margin could have been greater after centre Michael De Vere chased a Lockyer grubber-kick into the in-goal six minutes before half-time and Bulldogs replacement Johnathan Thurston did just enough to stop the City Origin three-quarter's right hand claiming a try but not enough to convince video referee Phil Cooley to award a penalty try.
"At worst it should have been a penalty," Bennett said. "If he played deliberately at Mick's hand, it should have been a penalty try. But you can't keep sacking video referees. No-one will apply to do the job."
New Brisbane winger Scott Minto stepped inside Brent Sherwin 40 metres out in the 28th minute, drew another tackler and offloaded to Lockyer, who put Ikin over, with De Vere converting.
Ten minutes later, Bulldogs fullback Luke Patten dropped a bomb in front of his own posts and, from Brisbane's scrum win, halfback Sherwin stripped the ball from Tate.
But the Steeden landed in the hands of Berrigan, who quickly sent it to the left, Lockyer skipping through some despairing defence to bag another converted try near the posts.
Berrigan's four-pointer came when Thurston threw a wayward ball five metres into opposition territory, the 24-year-old Broncos half showing surprising pace to dash away and score.
Tate then showed wonderful skill to chip over the head of Patten on the fly with six minutes to left to claim four points for himself, De Vere converting after missing an earlier penalty attempt.
Dogs skipper Steve Price said there was no comparison between last night's game and the last time his side was held scoreless, 720 days before.
"We were terrible that night," he said.
Last night the Bulldogs were good enough to get over the Broncos' line three times, only to be forced back
|Hazem El Masri||Wing||0||0||0||0|
|Braith Anasta||Five Eighth||0||0||0||0|
|Brent Sherwin||Half Back||0||0||0||0|
|Andrew Ryan||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Glen Hughes||Second Row||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Price||Front Row||0||0||0||0|
|Willie Mason||Front Row||0||0||0||0|