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Brisbane coach Kevin Walters is at a loss to explain his side's recent slow starts that threaten to cruel the Broncos's 2022 NRL title hopes.
Brisbane's worrying trend of starting games slowly continued as the Broncos slumped to a 34-16 loss to the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night.
While the Roosters' fourth straight victory powered Trent Robinson's pre-season title fancies to within two competition points of Brisbane, the Broncos' top-four hopes now look precarious.
Brisbane conceded the first try in each of their three games leading up to the pivotal round-21 clash at the SCG.
Leaking the first three tries to the Roosters inside the opening 20 minutes only compounded coach Kevin Walters' concerns as the Broncos never recovered.
Walters declared his young side had premiership potential last month but an all-important top-four finish could slip out of the Broncos' grasp unless they can buck the trend.
"(Our starts) have been poor," Walters said.
"I'm going to sort that out over the weekend. It's probably just a mental thing, I'm not really sure.
"It's a bit concerning it's been happening for the last three or four weeks. It's something we're going to look at.
"We've got the Knights next week and there are plenty of things for us to work on."
Led by Matt Lodge and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, the Roosters dominated the Broncos through the middle but Walters defended his side, who he said were not yet the finished product.
"We're still learning," he said.
"(The Roosters) have been a good side for a long time and we're on the way up. We've just stuck our head over the cliff and they've been standing there waiting for us."
Walters refused to blame the absence of suspended forward Pat Carrigan for the defeat.
"He's certainly a good player but we had a capable side out there tonight to mix it with the Roosters," he said.
"They wanted it a bit more, particularly at the start of the game."
Hosting North Queensland on Saturday week, the Roosters could conceivably leapfrog Brisbane on the ladder if they beat the Cowboys and the Broncos lose to Newcastle at Suncorp Stadium.