It was a game that went back and forth and a game that any team could have won, but it was a late penalty goal for the Brisbane Broncos that saw them win 16-14 in a thrilling contest at Leichhardt Oval.
With the scores tied after 76 minutes, Broncos half Ben Hunt stepped up and slotted the penalty goal and gave the Brisbane side a crucial win, continuing their good momentum over the last few weeks.
There was controversy behind the decision, though, with the referees ruling that Broncos winger Lachlan Maranta was tackled without the ball by opposing winger, Pat Richards.
The decision was one that left Tigers officials infuriated.
“Destiny was in our own hands earlier in the game but we were poor in some areas and they were fortunate to get a penalty that I was struggling to find a penalty for at the back end of the game,” said Wests Tigers head coach, Mick Potter.
“It’s great for them to win on that but disappointing for us.”
There was confusion surrounding the late decision with Tigers captain Braith Anasta unsure of the exact nature of the call until the kick was being taken.
“I wasn’t sure why there was a penalty when it first happened. I thought someone must’ve completely held someone back on the chase back but on the replay I was surprised by it,” he said.
Even Richards himself was left flummoxed by the decision and admits he was disappointed in the decision.
“It happened so fast. It was one of those things that could’ve gone either way and I obviously didn’t intentionally go over to tackle him without the ball. It just happened so quick. I thought he was there and the ball was in front of him, I had no other option,” he said.
“[Badger] said basically I had to run around the bloke. He was a metre from the line. How was I supposed to run around the bloke to tackle him there? It happened so fast. What do you do? That’s footy.”
The narrow win was largely due to Ben Hunt and Broncos coach Anthony Griffin was quick to praise the efforts of his live-wire halfback.
“Like a lot of our team, he’s maturing and learning how to handle situations,” Griffin continued.
“When we needed that line break, he got it. And then under pressure he jammed the kick. We’ve been patchy with our finishes and being able to close those games out. It was nice that we turned up in defence tonight when we had to in the end there.”
For Hunt himself, rather than take the risk of trying to do too much, he knew the better option was to kick the penalty goal.
“I just thought, ‘We’re down there, there’s a couple of minutes to go, we might as well have a shot’,” he said.
“I had a chance of getting that than a field goal or something. I just thought, ‘Go into it confident.’ And [it] just come off.
“It wasn’t the prettiest win, but we really toughed it out. We kicked well and we ground out a good win. I’d say it was one of my most mature performances. It wasn’t pretty, but it definitely got the job done.”
3. Ben Hunt
2. Corey Oates
1. Alex Glenn