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Hoffman shines in 22-12 win over Eels

Brisbane showed on Friday night why they don't need Ben Barba as fullback Josh Hoffman inspired the Broncos to a 22-12 win over lowly Parramatta at Suncorp Stadium.
Hoffman shines in 22-12 win over Eels
by AAP

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, Aug 16 AAP - Brisbane showed on Friday night why they don't need Ben Barba as fullback Josh Hoffman inspired the Broncos to a 22-12 win over lowly Parramatta at Suncorp Stadium.

Canterbury superstar Barba is squarely in the Broncos' sights after he admitted on Friday he had sought a release from the final two years of his NRL contract in order to be with his Queensland-based family.

But the Broncos are not exactly short on fullback star power with Hoffman starring in the four tries to two victory over the wooden spoon fancies that extended their unbeaten run to four games and kept their slim finals hopes alive.

The taste of defeat should be familiar for Parramatta but the result was still a bitter one after they also lost Eels hero Jarryd Hayne (suspected thigh) after coming off second best when his 66th minute sideline scoring chance was snuffed out by that man Hoffman.

Indeed Hoffman appeared everywhere on Friday night.

Time after time Hoffman extinguished Eels raids but his attacking flair also turned heads - particularly in the 28th minute.

Somehow the New Zealand international beat four players in a rampaging 40m run to crash over and blow the deficit out to 16-6 in the first half.

Still, Hoffman may be the odd man out if Brisbane complete their bold recruitment plan for 2014 with not only Barba but Canberra No.1 Anthony Milford also in their sights.

The 11th-placed Broncos need to win their final four games just to stay in the top eight mix but would not have been taking anything for granted despite lining up against the hapless Eels.

The dead last Eels knocked over Brisbane 19-18 in their round nine clash this year and thrashed the hosts 44-22 the last time they met at Suncorp Stadium in 2012.

However, Brisbane appeared in control from the outset with prop Josh McGuire running off hooker Andrew McCullough to draw first blood in the 11th minute.

But Brisbane gave Hayne room to move and the makeshift Eels pivot made them pay by capping a weaving run by setting up centre Ryan Morgan in the 18th minute to lock up the scores 6-6.

Winger Corey Oates (25th minute) and Hoffman crossed to make the halftime score 16-6.

Brisbane put the result beyond doubt when centre Jack Reed (51st) crossed before Reni Maitua (78th) reeled in the deficit.

Parramatta snapped a 10-game losing run with a last round win over Wests Tigers but are still on course to become the first club since South Sydney in 2003-2004 to claim back-to-back wooden spoons.

Hoffman clocked up 156 metres, had seven tackle busts and produced two try-saving intercepts with Hayne seemingly his biggest scalp.

Eels coach Ricky Stuart kept his fingers crossed that Hayne would not be sidelined for a lengthy spell but admitted his pivot panicked when he went down in the 66th minute with what is now believed to be a knee complaint.

"He thought he had stretched an old injury. He was hopeful he had just suffered a twinge. We definitely don't need Jarryd Hayne on the sidelines," Stuart said.

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin was happy to talk about an "outstanding" Hoffman but baulked when asked about the prospect of luring Barba to Brisbane.

"I can't talk to him. He's contracted to Canterbury. You'd have to ask (Bulldogs coach) Des (Hasler)," he said.

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