Five Key Points – Sharks v Broncos

1 The stats that matter
The only real statistic that makes any difference is the one on the scoreboard at fulltime.

Unfortunately for the Sharks, the most crucial numbers read Broncos 12-Sharks 10, however in most other statistical categories the Sharks came out on top, showing they probably did enough to get the points.

The Sharks had 56 percent of the football, found little trouble in rolling up the field, running for in excess of 300 metres more than Brisbane, while they gave up just one line break to the Broncos against three of their own.

There were some negatives to go with that as well, with a 76 percent completion rate a little down on what would be deemed as a pass mark, while the Sharks conceded nine penalties to just six from their opponents.

Certainly, there were some good sings, the Sharks were again 'brave' in the words of their coach and outstanding defensively, but the lack of finishing in the attacking zone would have been disappointing for all concerned.

There is only one stat that matters, that is to do with your score and that of your opponents, with the Sharks needing to be on top of that statistical battle in the next five weeks.

2 Origin experience shines through
To some, Matt Prior was a surprise selection for the second game of the Origin series but not to those who have seen him perform for the Sharks on a regular basis.

A no-nonsense defender and never one to shirk his responsibilities with the football, Prior is always willing to put his hand up for that tough carry out of trouble and the Sharks prop again did everything he could to lift his team over the line on Thursday night.

It was no coincidence the Sharks were all over the Broncos in the early exchanges, then managed to get back on top late in the contest when Prior returned to the field.

And one play could have, probably should have, turned the game in the Sharks favour, when Prior back slammed his opponent, with the ball jolting loose, only for the referee to incorrectly rule one-on-one strip and scrum feed to Brisbane.

Despite commentators wanting to blow smoke up some of the young forwards in the game as they do, there was no doubt Prior was one of, if not the most influential big man on the field.

He is the same Matt Prior Sharks fans have come to appreciate but now following his Origin call up, more people might be recognising his talents.

3 Is this the year?
He scores them for Australia, scores them for Queensland, get across the stripe when he is on the wing and now he is finding the line just as regularly as a fullback, with the Suncorp double from Valentine Holmes on Thursday taking his tally to 61 tries in 97 games for the Sharks.

His 17 tries so far this year also tops the NRL try scorers list kicking off round 20.

The speed and evasion is now being backed up by a fullback's instincts, with Holmes, one of the Maroons best, currently in a rich vein of form.

But is this the year he breaks the long-standing Sharks try-scoring record?

Set by David Peachey in 1999, equalled by Holmes in 2016, with five games to go the mark of 19 tries in a season is seriously under threat.

4 That finals feel
We're not quite there yet and neither are the Broncos, however the game on Thursday night had a finals intensity about it.

Played between two teams who play it tough and hard, it was always likely to be a war of attrition and that's the way it panned out, with both sides battering themselves to a near standstill.

Plenty of ice packs were on show in the Sharks sheds post-game and the same would have been the case for their opponents, who look to have lost Alex Glenn for an extended period with a possible broken wrist.

Coming up in the next few weeks the Sharks have a few opponents not in finals contention, coupled with a trip to Melbourne to take on the Storm, with the Brisbane game a dress rehearsal for what is ahead.

Thursday wasn't a win, but had that finals feel, giving the Sharks a jolt of reality ahead of the big games in September.

5 We'd rather not talk about it
Referee bashing is becoming boring, however it will continue while crucial errors are being made.

Unfortunately, a little more than 24-hours after conceding the referees had a tough job, Shane Flanagan was left frustrated by a series of calls that went against his team.

Refs boss Bernhard Sutton phoned Flanagan on Friday morning to explain and has since come out publicly in stating the penalty call against Matt Moylan for the supposed tackle in the air and the decision to rule knock on against Matt Prior for what was a robust back slam, were both wrong. 

They were just two of what Flanagan perceived to be tough calls against his team on the night, with the 
boot on the other foot last week, when the consensus was the Raiders were on the end of a couple of dud calls. It's easy for those commenting on the game to sprout the the 'what goes around comes around' and the theory that it all evens out in the end, but that doesn't sit well with losing coaches. 

We'd rather not talk about the match officials, but at the moment they are giving those who analyse the game little choice.