The Bulldogs came out firing to lead 14-0 after 25 minutes thanks to tries by Josh Jackson and Will Hopoate and despite Korbin Sims inspiring a comeback with 2 strong tries the Broncos still trailed16-12 at halftime.
Dean Pay’s men were outstanding in the 2nd half, scoring 3 quick tries through Brett Morris, Matt Frawley and Josh Morris early in the 2nd stanza against an error-riddled Broncos outfit. Young five-eighth Lachlan Lewis was outstanding with his attacking kicking game.
The Broncos managed consolation tries to Anthony Milford and Jamayne Isaako but were left to lament a poor result and a massive blow to their top four hopes.
Here are five things we learned from this game.
1. Broncos lose against a lowly opponent, again
Few experts gave the 13th placed Bulldogs a chance of beating the 7th placed Broncos who came into this Round 21 clash full of confidence after outstanding home wins over the Penrith Panthers and Cronulla Sharks.
However the Broncos were their own worst enemies with a completion rate of just 71% on the night and they really struggled to contain the go forward of the Bulldogs, allowing them to make easy yards early in the game. This allowed the Bulldogs to gain confidence and open up a 14-0 lead.
It was perhaps more surprising that Brisbane stormed back into the game, and would have led at halftime if Korbin Sims hadn’t been denied a third try for a double movement just before halftime, yet they were still blown away by a determined Canterbury outfit early in the 2nd half.
The Broncos have now lost 4 games in 2018 to teams outside the top 8, with Manly, Newcastle and The Gold Coast having upset them earlier in the season.
2. Bulldogs young stars shine
It’s been a very tough year for the Bulldogs with Aaron Woods and Moses Mbye leaving the club mid-season and the salary cap situation giving the club little chance to buy big name players in the short term.
However, young talent such as five-eighth Lachlan Lewis, second rower Rhyse Martin and winger Reimis Smith have been outstanding in recent weeks and they are providing the fans hope for the future.
Lachlan is the nephew of the great Wally Lewis and while he’d love to even achieve half of what ‘The King’ did in Rugby League, he certainly has the potential to be a quality NRL player if his opening 6 First Grade games are anything to go by.
3. The Dogs are proving serious nuisance value
The Bulldogs were many people’s favourites for the wooden spoon two weeks ago but they appear to be steering well clear of the unwanted accolade, following two outstanding wins over finals hopefuls.
The Wests Tigers were full of confidence after beating St George Illawarra and South Sydney but found the Bulldogs defence uncompromising in a 16-4 loss last week.
Similarly, the Broncos were hot favourites this week having won 5 of their last 6 games but were made to pay for poor ball control and lost to a Bulldogs side hungry to gain respect after a difficult year.
Not only did the Bulldog youngsters impress but the experienced players also led the way. Aiden Tolman was outstanding up front making 162 metres while Josh Jackson continued his inspirational form and displayed his ball skills with a superb cut out pass in a move that led to a Kerrod Holland try in the first half.
4. Jury still out on Broncos playmakers
Brisbane halves Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima produced erratic displays at ANZ Stadium.
There were flashes of brilliance mixed with some frustrating mistakes, with Milford kicking out on the full and struggling with his team pinned in their own half.
The Broncos looked better in attack at the back end of the game with Darius Boyd moving back to his preferred fullback role.
While Jamayne Isaako has been outstanding in his rookie season coach Wayne Bennett might consider moving Boyd back to the Number 1 jersey for the run into the finals.
5. The Broncos look long shots to make the top four now
If the Sydney Roosters beat North Queensland and St George Illawarra defeat the Warriors, the Broncos will be 4 points outside the top 4 with only 4 rounds remaining.
Wayne Bennett’s men also face a tough run home with the Cowboys in Townsville next week likely to be fired up in Johnathan Thurston’s last game against the Broncos. Then in the last three rounds, Brisbane take on top four aspirants South Sydney and The Sydney Roosters and they finish with Manly.
Despite their frustrating inconsistency, the good news for Brisbane fans is that their team has proven they can beat the top teams having already beaten the Roosters and Rabbitohs this season. Even if the Broncos miss the top 4 they can still be a dangerous team as long as they make the finals.
What did you learn from Canterbury's shock win over the Broncos at ANZ Stadium? Let us know in the comments below.