Broncos pay the price for Seibold gamble
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold is likely to face further scrutiny after his tactical decisions left the Broncos muddled and lifeless in a dispiriting 26-12 defeat to Newcastle.
The end result wasn't the only concern for Queenslanders with star fullback Kalyn Ponga ruled out before the match with a calf injury, Anthony Milford failing to finish the game and Edrick Lee suffering a potential broken arm.
Even with the superstar Ponga out of action, the Broncos still couldn't find a much-needed win.
The visitors couldn't register a single point in the first half as they looked flat and lacked energy despite being awarded an incredible 14 penalties and four times the amount of tackles inside the Knights' 20m zone.
The loss could prove to be a costly one by Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold who decided to chance his hand by playing Milford at fullback and Darius Boyd at five-eighth.
And the "calculated risk" simply didn't work.
In 305 NRL appearances, Boyd has never played in the five-eighth role.
Milford, meanwhile, began his career as a fullback for Canberra but hasn't played in the No.1 jersey since 2014.
And the inexperience showed early on in the game when Milford was caught out of place to cause an obstruction, while Boyd's poor defence up in the line allowed Newcastle to seal the win with a try in the 69th minute.
Million-dollar Milford seemed to find his feet in the second half and looked much more dangerous at the back but it will be interesting to see whether Seibold persists with his positional switch.
Despite the result, Seibold said he would "definitely" persist with the positional change.
"I think for our team Milf is better suited to play fullback," Seibold said. "We think it's what we need to do at the moment.
"I thought Milf looked pretty good at fullback and he'll only get better there and Boyd will get better at half. It's all about learning.
"It's only been two or three sessions this week. It's the best for us at the moment."
He said last night's loss was a result of his playing group being unable to "handle chaos" and that they were still learning.
"The playing group is learning," he said. "Who learns quickest in the NRL normally succeeds and we just need to keep learning.
"As I said, I'm the coach so that's my job (to teach them).
"We had eight guys out there playing under 25 (NRL) games so they're still learning."
Broncos needed to win seven of the next 11 heading into the match to make the finals - now, that's made even more difficult considering they face the Sharks, Storm and Rabbitohs on their run home.
Next week's clash with Cronulla at Shark Park now shapes as a must-win for Brisbane if they are to keep their finals' hopes alive after being sentenced to 13th on the ladder.
The Cowboys in 2013 were the last team to make it into the finals with a 5-9 win-loss record but had the advantage of rugby league legend Johnathan Thurston to steer them into the top eight.
The Broncos looked as if they were in for a similar hiding to the one they copped against Parramatta last round.
They were in disarray to start the match and had no momentum - epitomised by the fact Origin representative Matt Gillett had zero hit-ups in the first half.
It was a much more spirited performance by Brisbane in the second half as they reduced their 18 point deficit at halftime to get within eight points with 20 minutes to go.
But the second stanza began in controversial fashion when Knights forward James Gavet was sin-binned for a tackle on Andrew McCullough which allowed the Broncos to cross the line through Thomas Flegler.
Kotoni Staggs was able to cross over in the 61st minute as the Broncos threatened to come-from-behind but a crucial missed tackle by Boyd on Knights centre Jesse Ramien allowed the home side to seal the game at 26-12.