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Brisbane Broncos beat Cronulla Sharks 26-18 in thrilling NRL season opener

ABC News logo ABC News 2/03/2017
Ricky Leutele of the Sharks is tackled during the round one NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Brisbane Broncos. © Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Ricky Leutele of the Sharks is tackled during the round one NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Brisbane Broncos.

They gave the Brisbane Broncos an extended period of nerves and grief, but Cronulla's NRL premiership defence has got off to a losing start in a cracking 26-18 defeat at Shark Park.

It all seemed to start so well for the hosts. From the kick-off, a determined mob of Sharks forwards charged at Adam Blair, smashing the Brisbane forward over the Broncos' try-line in a pile-driving statement of intent.

Tipped by many to struggle in their NRL title defence, that was exactly the start the Sharks were looking for.

But barely three minutes later, reality seemed to kicked in.

Slick Broncos build-up saw Jordan Kahu scythe in from the right to score in the corner, before converting his own try.

There would be a pick-me-up for the hosts as Gerard Beale scored to see the scores level after conversion, latching onto the final short pass of a quick sequence of good hands to beat the Brisbane back line near the posts.

But the Broncos would end the first stanza the stronger as James Roberts dived lowest and quickest following an excellent dash for the byline following an Anthony Milford grubber kick.

It looked like Brisbane would further assert its authority when Corey Oates dived acrobatically to score a stunning try in the left corner five minutes into the second half, putting the visitors 20-6 up.

But James Maloney hit back almost immediately with a try and conversion just four minutes later, before Ricky Leutele edged over the line after a sequence of passes down the left flank to make it a two-point ball game with 20 minutes to play.

That bubble would burst for the Sharks, however, as Milford profited from a cheeky sidestep, strong shoulders and a Cronulla defence at sixes and sevens to bulldoze his way through for what proved to be the winning try.

Broncos captain Darius Boyd proved to be the victors' best on field for the night, assisting two of the three tries that gave Brisbane an initial 20-6 lead, while all of Brisbane's starting forwards carried the ball for more than 100 metres.

The Broncos' Alex Glenn failed to finish the full match, however, after copping a first-half concussion.

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