The 48-0 carve-up was exactly the response coach Michael Maguire was looking for after an ordinary performance against South Sydney. Keeping the Broncos scoreless would have pleased him more than the nine tries. It was their first shut-out in eight years.
The Tigers will need a similar performance to match it with competition leaders Parramatta.
Who can forget last year’s Easter Monday mauling, when the electric Eels ruined Benji Marshall’s 300th NRL game.
Ryan Matterson will come face to face with the club he walked out on last summer, despite having two years to run on his deal. And the Tigers are already expecting another former player, Mitchell Moses, to make an early return from injury for the showdown.
Half a dozen Tigers would have been entitled to man-of-the-match honours against the bumbling Broncos.
Billy Walters produced one of the tries of the year when he somehow volleyed a Benji Marshall bomb and got the ball to sit up just beside the upright before out-sprinting two Broncos to score. It was his first try in the NRL and famous father Kevin did well to contain his emotions when calling the unforgettable moment in the Fox Sports commentary box.
Marshall, in his return to the Tigers’ run-on side, had the spirited Leichhardt Oval crowd cheering every time he got the ball – including a try in the first half – while hooker Harry Grant was greeted with ‘Harry’ chants when given a 15-minute early mark. Such scenes were normally reserved for Robbie Farah whenever he played at Leichhardt.
David Nofoaluma was in everything, unheralded prop Josh Aloiai was outstanding in the middle, while Luciano Leilua bagged a first-half double.
One man who could not have waited to get out of Leichhardt was Broncos coach Anthony Seibold.
The embarrassing blowout was his club’s seventh loss in eight games since the competition relaunched. The knives that were reluctantly put away up north after the win over cellar-dwellers Canterbury last weekend are about to return.
They have now conceded 252 points at an average of 31.5 since the COVID shutdown.
And to think the Broncos will have Melbourne and Cameron Smith to contend with next Friday night. Suncorp will struggle to get 7500 fans, even though they are allowed to hold many more.
They also lost Corey Oates to a suspected broken leg.
“It’s pretty raw after a performance like that,” said Seibold, when asked if he was still the right man for the job.
“I haven’t put any thought into it. There’s nothing you can say to them. We’re out of words. It’s about actions.
“With Corey going down we have 15 players unavailable out of the 36. We don’t have a lot of options.
“I’ve tried to stick solid and show belief in the group, but we can’t keep tossing up performances like that.
“We played poorly. I don’t know how to defend that performance tonight.
“We have a group there who can’t handle any chaos or anything that goes against them, and it showed tonight – we’re so far off where we want to be and what we can be.”
Such was the dominance of the Tigers that their 2633 fans let out a giant sigh when Walters was caught with the ball right on half-time. Even though it was 26-0, there was a sense more points were coming as the Tigers’ kept the ball alive.
The Broncos are gone. The Tigers are not. Bring on Parra.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.