Adam Reynolds made a triumphant return to the Accor Stadium, leading the Brisbane Broncos to a 32-12 victory over his former club, South Sydney.
Reynolds described “mixed feelings” returning to face Souths for the first time and admitted it had been difficult in the days leading up to the clash.
“I have a lot of buddies in the team and I still have a lot of good connections,” he said.
“They’ve been a big part of my career. I’ve played over 10 years at the club and they’ve supported me since I came through.
“I didn’t know what it was going to do until I got here. I’m glad it’s over and I’ll go to the hangars for a beer with the boys.
“Me and Jai Arrow went there nonstop. I knew once we got on the pitch there would be some scrambling and a bit of a hassle, but it was fun.
“We have bragging rights, so I’m happy with that. This chapter is closed; I’m excited about the new with the Broncos.
“I just wanted to continue our form for the Broncos. It is more important than an individual who wants something from his old team.
The Souths legend ended his night by signing shirts for die-hard Bunnies fans in The Burrow, despite receiving his fair share of fan digs during the game.
Indeed, the mics picked up an interaction between Reynolds and referee Grant Atkins in which the halfback commented on some of the choice comments, whistling, “I thought they liked me.”
To his credit, Atkins fired back with “They sure don’t like me”.
Reynolds never got a goodbye last year, as roster moved to Queensland, and was happy to end his Redfern period with Bunnies fans.
“He was just going to say thank you to them, there were a few boos as well,” he said.
“I expected everything in the opposing team to be fun and fun, but a lot of fans stayed after the game and I’m grateful for what Souths did for me.”
Reynolds was the bandleader, scoring a try, kicking six out of six and hitting over 500m in kicking yards.
It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that the difference between the teams was number 7: the difference between Reynolds, a shrewd veteran, and Lachlan Ilias, a talented rookie, was written all over the Accor stadium.
“He’s hugely talented, but he also makes the other players and coaching staff around him that much better – he’s proven in the first eight weeks how valuable he is to us already,” said the coach. Kevin Walters.
“We’re very grateful to have him at our club. He’s been consistent for 10 years in the NRL now. That’s one of the reasons we actively sought him out.
In round one, when these two last met, Reynolds had missed, stuck in Covid isolation.
There was a solid argument that Brisbane were lucky to win that night. There was no luck in this performance: they were better in every department.
As a team, the Broncos put on a performance that couldn’t have been more perfectly timed to get the most out of their half: they finished high, allowing Reynolds’ kicks to show, and defended with the enthusiasm that gave them a platform to attack.
“There was no luck,” Walters said. “The Souths were a little off tonight, they are missing a few key players. But we will get the win tonight.
“It’s a win, which is great, we’re building and improving every week.”
The south has been plagued with the same problems that have dogged them all year. Their attack is more than clumsy, with poor form, a success rate below 70% and far too many errors. While the Bunnies didn’t help themselves with the ball in hand, a lot could be attributed to the Broncos’ line speed.
They tripled the number of balls played in the opposing 20m zone, but consistently failed to make the most of their possession. When the attack was launched, it was often met with stiff resistance, with several superb scrambling tackles.
“Adam Reynolds was good, but he was allowed to be,” Souths coach Jason Demetriou said. “He has to hit the ball on the front foot all the time, we put little pressure on him.
“We gave them 18 points by not defending kicks and interception attempts.
“I don’t think we were here to win the game. We showed some glimpses in the first half, but the second half was as disappointing a half as we’ve played all season.
“Our rate of achievement and areas of effort were particularly ordinary.
“We left three tries there tonight with drops on the line. There is no doubt that we created chances, but the more the game went on, the more the pressure of the scoreboard was on us and it affected our way of attacking.
Kicking was key for the Broncos throughout and created the first down as Reynolds kicked and Corey Oates rose well above Blake Taaffe to give the Broncos a deserved lead .
The Broncos opened the scoring, but their defense saved them just as many points at the other end. Taane Milne would have scored had it not been for a late football tiebreak from Herbie Farnworth to save the try. Kobe Hetherington then denied another try with a superb strike on Jai Arrow which dislodged the ball.
The Souths were losing the ruck and leaving too many cheap meters at unloads. Selwyn Cobbo had closed out a game that seemed halted, only to come to life with the reel slaloming through the static defenders.
The breakthrough was coming, and it was the star that was coming back to provide it at the half hour.
South Sydney’s problems with the second phase continued. They failed to stop Thomas Flegler in his tracks, and when he unloaded on Patrick Carrigan, the Bunnies also failed to cover the ball. Reynolds, ever alert, was on hand to take the ball under the sticks.
Brisbane had racked up the points and continued to support it with defence. When, again, it looked like the barrage had been breached, a miracle try saver was found, with TC Robati stealing the ball away from Taaffe on the occasion.
The stalwart Broncos fullback had seen them absorb five repeat sets on their line, and with time ticking away at halftime, he was still susceptible to cracking. When it did, it was the same move that had gone so close before: this time Farnworth was nowhere in sight as Milne put the rabbits on the board.
Taaffe’s bad night under the high ball continued. Reynolds was the architect again, with a high kick causing the error. Selwyn Cobbo was there to grab all four points.
Te Maire Martin felt as generous as Taaffe. He dropped a Cody Walker Bomb and offered a field position for the Bunnies, who returned fire directly through Milne.
Reynolds couldn’t be kept out of the game. He kicked a penalty – the Broncos’ first of the year – before putting Oates in a hole, from which he fed Farnworth to score.
The Bunnies promoted football on offense, but found no timing and presented few defensive problems for the Broncos.
Eventually Walker pushed too far and juggled Cobbo, who showed an impressive toe to run 90m and put the result beyond doubt.
With just three minutes remaining, captain Cameron Murray dropped a cold ball into the shadow of the Broncos’ sticks. It was as good a metaphor as one could wish.