The general pace of the game may have disappointed some until the last 20-25 minutes but it is the Sydney Roosters that are crowing until the sun comes up as they earned a week off following their narrow win.
In what was a qualifying final to remember in some respects, the narrow 24-22 victory was enough for the Roosters to win as the Broncos prepare themselves for another clash next week at Suncorp Stadium against the winner of the Penrith v Manly finals game.
The match could have taken a very different turn if the Broncos had held on after a second Corey Oates try following a horror bat-back from Blake Ferguson off a 40/20 attempt but it as luck would have it, a young Rooster showcased his skills.
The first half started poorly for the Broncos as they missed tackles left, right and centre and seemingly had no answer for a rampant Roosters attack.
The Roosters quickly rushed out to a 14-0 lead on the back of tries from Aidan Guerra and Boyd Cordner as well as a penalty goal to veteran fullback Michael Gordon.
In all sorts in the early stages of the first half, the Broncos managed to claw one try back before the break as Benji Marshall – pulling the strings for the Broncos – put in a deft grubber that saw a try for James Roberts who had too much speed for Gordon.
The two teams then went tit-for-tat to begin the second half as further errors creeped into their games.
The Roosters lead was extended to 18-6 when Luke Keary found a huge gap in the Broncos weary defence to score before Kodi Nikorima and Corey Oates combined to claw back the deficit to just eight points at 18-10.
Needing something special to make a fist of the contest, the Broncos had two tries either side of the 70-minute mark to make it happen. One was a piece of individual brilliance by Ben Hunt and the other was a catastrophic error by Blake Ferguson that led to a second Oates try.
First, Ben Hunt got the ball at first receiver, took the line on, grubbered ahead for himself and won the race to the ball.
This was followed by a try to Corey Oates who capitalised after a horror bat-back attempt by Blake Ferguson in the act of preventing a 40/20 saw the ball virtually land in Oates’ lap who scooped the ball up 10m from the try-line to score the easiest try of his career.
Those two tries put the Broncos up 22-18 but there was a late twist of fate as a tremendous solo effort from young Roosters back Latrell Mitchell – that resulted in a huge fend on James Roberts – sealed the Roosters win.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett was not about to beat around the bush, admitting that his side did not deserve to win.
“No, we didn’t [deserve to win],” Bennett began.
“You watch it, it’s pretty easy to see where we went wrong. We were just full of mistakes.”
Player of the Game:
3. Boyd Cordner
2. Benji Marshall
- Latrell Mitchell
Sydney Roosters 24 (Guerra, Cordner, Keary, Mitchell tries; Gordon 4 goals) def. Brisbane Broncos 22 (Oates 2, Roberts, Hunt tries; Kahu 3 goals) at Allianz Stadium. Half time: Roosters 14-6. Crowd: 21,212.