Broncos appalling as Bennett has last laugh
Wayne Bennett 1, Anthony Seibold 0.
Brisbane bosses' decision to sack Wayne Bennett exploded in their face on Thursday night as the Souths super coach savoured the ultimate revenge with a 38-6 carve-up to leave the Broncos' top-four hopes in tatters.
The 32-point hammering equalled South Sydney's biggest ever win over the Broncos following their 44-12 rout of Brisbane in 2009.
It was touted as the NRL's grudge match of the year and master Bennett finished with bragging rights over the rookie who took his job after watching the Rabbitohs maul his once beloved Broncos.
Brisbane 18-year-old halfback debutant Tom Dearden received a chilling introduction to the NRL as Souths led from start to finish to leave the Broncos floundering with a 2-6 record after eight rounds.
On a night where Souths paid tribute to retired Greg Inglis, a Rabbitohs fan underlined the bad blood when she mocked Seibold by waving a huge cardboard cutout of GI's face at the Broncos coaching box.
Seibold was then left to watch Bennett's Bunnies rub his Broncos' faces into the turf in a one-sided ANZ Stadium cakewalk that leaves Brisbane on the brink of crisis.
Five months after being sacked by voicemail, Bennett would have chuckled in delight as Souths halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds scored three tries between them to propel the hosts to a 24-0 half-time lead.
In pre-season these two teams were touted as possible grand-final contenders. On Thursday night, the gulf was so great Bennett's Rabbitohs looked like premiership material while Seibold's Broncos will be lucky to make the finals.
"This game summed up our season," Seibold said.
"We are where we are. Before tonight, we had lost four games by 10 points or less, but the top teams at the moment are too good for us."
Bennett said the victory wasn't about settling personal scores.
"I came here wanting us to play well. That was my priority. It wasn't about anything personal," Bennett said.
"The team at different stages all turned up. Defensively we were very good."
Brisbane have serious problems.
Just eight weeks ago, Broncos CEO Paul White promised this was not a rebuilding year.
On Friday, Brisbane's bosses should hold an inquisition that asks serious questions about the mess confronting the Broncos and how Seibold's squad can salvage a spluttering season.
Statistically, the Broncos weren't terrible, but ill-discipline crushed them. A 9-3 penalty count allowed the Rabbitohs to surge upfield and Bennett's big guns did the rest.
After a week of hype, the Rabbitohs looked composed from the opening minute.
That's the alarming difference between these teams.
The Rabbitohs possess a seamless on-field tactical unit kept calm by a senior core led by Sam Burgess and John Sutton that has won big games and premierships.
The Broncos have a poor imbalance of youth and experience and while Brisbane's emerging core have enormous promise, their kids are being schooled in the brutal playground that is the NRL.
The class chasm was most glaringly obvious at the scrumbase as the Walker-Reynolds alliance outpointed Brisbane's fresh pairing Dearden and Anthony Milford.
Asked if he was feeling the heat, Seibold said: "I'm pretty good, ideally it would be nice if we were 6-2. The club has made a decision to back the younger guys in the group and we have to keep fighting hard. I knew it wouldn't be easy. We are trying to blood the younger guys."
Corey Oates scored a consolation try in the 54th minute but as Bennett piloted Souths into the top four, the Broncos must wish they never left Wayne's World.