Gutsy Dolphins in epic Battle of Brisbane

Published 11:20pm 24 March 2023

Gutsy Dolphins in epic Battle of Brisbane
Words by Kylie Knight

No-one was left wondering what sort of team the Dolphins are after tonight’s epic Battle of Brisbane with their courage on full display for fans, opponents and the rest of the league to see.

The Dolphins may have lost the first Battle of Brisbane to the Broncos 18-12, but they would not have lost a single fan tonight and may have gained some after a tough and gritty performance that is probably already now the stuff of Dolphins’ folklore.

Tesi Niu nursed a crook right knee throughout most of the game, after injuring it in a try-saving tackle on Selwyn Cobbo early in the first half.

An ugly head clash involving Tom Gilbert and Kodi Nikorima resulted in Nikorima leaving the field only minutes after running out in the first half with blood pouring out of wounds above and below his eye.

He escaped a concussion but required stitches and missed the remainder of the game. It’s unlikely he will be fit to play next week.

To add to the Dolphins’ woes, playmaker Sean O’Sullivan suffered serious pectoral injury, 20 minutes before full-time.

Despite the obvious challenges tonight and the loss of Felise Kaufusi and Jeremy Marshall-King to suspension before kick-off, the Dolphins never gave up and in fact were right in the game until Dolphins’ junior Kotoni Staggs sealed the win for the Broncos with a try in the final couple of minutes.

At one stage, the Dolphins edged ahead of their cross-city rivals, leading 12-8, after tries to Jarrod Wallace and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

The game lived up to all the hype, which has been building since the Dolphins were granted an NRL licence, attracting 51,047 footy fans to Suncorp Stadium.

There appeared to be an even mix of Dolphins and Broncos fans, with one Broncos fan cheering his side on while wearing a Dolphins’ fin. It was that kind of night.

Gutsy Dolphins in epic Battle of Brisbane

‘We’ve set the standard’

While Dolphins’ Head Coach Wayne Bennett says it wasn’t a perfect performance, with mistakes from both sides, he was proud of his team.

“We were behind on the scoreboard. That’s the only place we lost today,” he said.

“We’ve set a standard for the rest of time, haven’t we? We had 50,000 plus here tonight, there will be 50,000 plus the next time we play because no-one will leave here tonight disappointed in either side.”

While both sides were imperfect, he said the effort was outstanding and something all fans would be happy with.

“We were so brave to keep ourselves in the game. It was a miracle,” he said.

Dolphins’ Captain Jesse Bromwich said he was proud of the effort his team put in.

“A lot of things didn’t go our way, we didn’t play the smartest either, but the effort – turning up for each other – I can’t give a big enough rap for the way they go about it. It’s just awesome to be a part of it,” he said.

Bromwich and Bennett praised the heroics of Niu.

“For a young guy to do that, put his body on the line for the team … it shows the kind of club we want to be and what kind of club we are,” Bromwich said.

Broncos Head Coach Kevin Walters said it was a tough win.

“I also want to pay my respects to the Dolphins. They were under a lot of pressure as well … they had some injuries through the game, so they’re a tough bloody side. They gave us a tough game,” Walters said.

“We weren’t at our best and they were a gritty side too … and they weren’t at their best either, let’s be fair. We’re just fortunate we finished in front.”

Fans of both clubs will be salivating at the prospect of the next Battle of Brisbane at The Gabba in round 18.

See the photo gallery - click through

Photos by Dominika Lis

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