This Saturday afternoon at 5.30pm, the Brisbane Broncos will take to their home track and do battle with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

In days gone by, it would have lit up television ratings, ignited radio interest and in a more digital age been a stimulus for clicks like few other NRL match-ups.

Instead, the two clubs will battle in what truly is nothing more than a meaningless contest, where one will nab two points against a team equally likely to own the 2021 wooden spoon.

The Broncos have begun the season with two straight losses. The first a bizarre and embarrassing second half capitulation to the Eels in Round 1, the other an equally unimpressive loss to little brother Gold Coast.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12: Reed Mahoney of the Eels celebrates after scoring a try during the round one NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium, on March 12, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Similarly, the Bulldogs have begun the season with nothing more than a whimper; toweled up by the Knights in Round 1 and smacked from pillar to post by the Panthers a week later.

Frankly, it will be tough to predict a winner and only the decent first half performance of the Broncos against the Eels will give them a slight advantage with the bookies heading into what looks an underwhelming contest.

It is hard to believe it has come to this for two clubs with little, but successful runs in their resumes. However, in the cut throat world of competitive sport and off the back of some poor decision making, luck and intuition, the majority of NRL teams will feel confident of locking in two competition points when they meet both the Broncos and Dogs in the 2021 season.

2020 saw the Broncos claim the wooden spoon for the first time in their history. Living a charmed life with super coach Wayne Bennett at the helm for 25 of its first 31 years, the club was a perennial contender, six time premiership winner and runner-up in 2015 with Bennett back in charge after a six year hiatus.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15: Coach Wayne Bennett during the Brisbane Broncos NRL training session on March 15, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Soon after, the Anthony Seibold adventure proved catastrophic, with the new coach achieving a lowly 35 per cent win rate across his two seasons at the helm and embarrassingly leading the club to that 2020 wooden spoon.

Despite ending up in much the same place, the Bulldogs' story reads quite differently. The late 20th century Bulldogs were successful, combative and intimidating. No matter the situation, any NRL club travelling to Belmore Sports Ground knew they were in for a tooth and nail scrap, one usually won by a Bulldogs team determined to grind just that little bit harder.

The early part of the 21st Century brought scandal and glory, and after a period of sustained success from 2012-16, one that everyone now realises was due unsustainable back ended contracts signed by then coach Des Hasler and Chairman Ray Dib, the Bulldogs hit the skids.

Their strategy proved unsustainable. Canterbury slumped to 11th in 2017 and 12th the two seasons after, as scapegoat coach Dean Pay was sent in rescue a club without a playing roster capable of being competitive.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 16: Bulldogs head coach Dean Pay looks on during the round 1 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium on March 16, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/2019 Getty Images)

2020 saw the blue and whites hit rock bottom with just three wins and the club occupy 15th place on the ladder come seasons' end. All the bluff and hot air of the Lynne Anderson board elected in 2018 and the promises of shrewd recruitment that would see on-field performances back on track by 2021 now appear to have come to naught.

Bar the Broncos equally disappointing 2020 season of three wins, the Dogs would have deservedly claimed the wooden spoon. Luckily for them, the Brisbane were 134 points worse off when it came to for and against statistics.

For both clubs and its fans, the embarrassment is palpable.

Kevin Walters and Trent Barrett have inherited basket cases in need of years of care and nurture in order to return to competitive NRL play. For the short term, they will remain as something of a sideshow comedy, both with squads bereft of the raw talent required to seriously compete for a premiership.

Brisbane Broncos Training Session
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 09: Coach Kevin Walters directs his players during a Brisbane Broncos NRL training session at Clive Berghofer Field on March 09, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Salary cap errors, in-fighting and mis-management have all led to the current state of play, yet fans of both clubs will whinge and whine about referees, penalty counts and injustice; ignoring the decisions from within that have brought both to their current plights.

Once Friday night prime time fare, a clash between the Brisbane and Canterbury has now become something rather second rate compared to a Roosters v Raiders battle or a Melbourne v Panthers affair.

Whichever team loses on Saturday can write off the year, whilst the winner might just hang on to hope for one more week before they too are sent packing for 2021.


  1. Sensationalist penmanship does nothing to improve the mental wellbeing of the players and coaching staff. Understand these people are payed good money to produce results, but the continual attacks from jounalists & NRL personalities is disgraceful.

  2. LuckyLot, there is not one personal attack on any individual player in that piece, only the collective is mentioned. The mental well being of humans is of utmost importance and needs to be respected at all times. Thus, don’t single out a player and make hurtful or overly harsh comments about them personally. Exactly, as I have not done. By your rather lofted standard, no journalist, writer, commentator or fan would be allowed to express criticism at all of their team; something that is unrealistic and quite ridiculous to desire. It would be a mighty boring rugby league world should respectful negative analysis be removed from the NRL narrative. Ps……one of those teams is mine!

  3. It’s a bit harsh saying both teams are “bereft of the raw talent”. I don’t care for either team personally but both teams are full of first grade players and you don’t make first grade being bereft of the raw talent. Hopefully we see a rise in performances. Here’s a tip for some, tackle around the bloody legs! It’s better than flying off the shoulders with a half arse attempt. Everybody knows who they are…

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