Jonathan Healy: Title slipping away from Broncos

Sportal May 26, 2012, 9:34 am

The Brisbane Broncos are currently in a form slump and they can't win the premiership this season if that trend continues.

Every season around this time the Broncos seem to lose a couple of games and each year it is always put down to the loss of players to Origin football.

But it might be different this year as the Broncos chase their first NRL title since 2006.

Anthony Griffin's side are going to finish May without a victory and that statistic cannot be blamed purely on the loss of players to representative football.

"At the moment we have just got ourselves in a bit of a hole," a blunt Griffin said after his side's loss to the Melbourne Storm on Friday night.

"We are going to need to be a lot better than that going forward if we want to win a football game."

Griffin didn't have Sam Thaiday, Justin Hodges or Petero Civoniceva at his disposal against Storm, but are those three players going to return to the line-up and cause an immediate turnaround?

This scribe is not so sure.

Civoniceva has been a warrior of the game for many years, but his performance in Origin I was a cause for concern and Hodges' form this season has hardly been earth-shattering.

Thaiday is indisputably one of the best forwards in the game and will improve the Broncos, but will it be enough to take them all the way?

There are too many question marks in Brisbane's line-up and the injury concerns are also starting to build up.

Jharal Yow Yeh - who was Brisbane's leading try scorer last year - won't play again this season, while another injury to David Hala is a huge blow to Griffin's side.

Hala has the potential to be a star in the NRL, but his likely absence for the rest of the campaign robs the Broncos of a bit of an x-factor in their line-up.

Once able to pride themselves on their defence, the Broncos have leaked tries in the last month at a rate sides at the bottom of the ladder would even be upset by.

Premiership teams are generally built around a strong defensive line, but in their past three games the Broncos have given up 15 tries and conceded 88 points.

In that same period, the Storm have given up just 32 points and they were apparently going through a slump of their own if you believe coach Craig Bellamy.

Storm are now three games clear of the Broncos and the rest of the competition, but the ladder leaders probably aren't getting the credit they deserve from those in New South Wales and Queensland.

The challengers are lining up behind them though, with the Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs and Rabbitohs among the teams to impress in the past month.

Storm have already beaten all of those teams this season apart from the Sea Eagles and that will be the challenge that Bellamy's side faces next month when the two fierce rivals lock horns in a Monday night showdown at Brookvale on June 18.

There is still plenty of time remaining this season - as Bellamy alluded to on Friday night - and there will be teams that mount strong premiership claims between now and the start of the finals series.

However, the Broncos are one team that are just battling at the moment and you have to wonder whether they have enough firepower in their squad to make a serious charge.

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