Wests Tigers should have won tonight. It was that simple, or so it seemed. The Tigers were pretty much the better team for most of the match, looking more likely to pile on points throughout. But it never happened. Brain snapping penalties and shocking kicking in general play saw the Tigers wither and fade as the plucky Broncos stepped up to take the honours 19-18 at Suncorp Stadium tonight, notching just their second win from their last six outings.
A spectacular try on the stroke of half time gave the visitors a 12-8 halftime advantage – but the Broncos lifted for a short period and took full advantage of the brief momentum shift, scoring twice in a 3 minute period to jump away to an 18-12 lead.
The Tigers had threatened most of the night, but proved their ability with an amazing attacking play with Benji Marshall putting Dean Collis into a gap down the right-hand edge, and the classy centre showed impressive skill to then launch a kick back infield, that bounced up perfectly for Liam Fulton.
The workaholic backrower then touched down under the posts to narrow the gap to two.
Hodgson converted from adjacent to the posts to tie the game at 18-all with 14 minutes to play. But while Benji Marshall was instrumental in setting up this try, his defence left the Tigers exposed at various stages and a late error with the game on the line really hurt his sides chances.
Nick Emmett went agonisingly close to giving Brisbane the lead in the 71st minute but was ruled held up, before Karmichael Hunt stepped up two minutes later to give the Broncos the lead courtesy of a field goal.
Hunt’s good work looked to have been undone when Darius Boyd knocked on shortly after the re-start, and Broncos backrower Corey Parker let his annoyance be known by seemingly shouldering his teammate.
Marshall let the Broncos off the hook when he turned the ball over with a silly pass, but it wasn’t over yet for the Broncos – John Morris had a chance to square the game in the dying stages.
His attempt from directly in front sailed wide, and the Broncos held on for a much needed win by the barest possible margin.
It was like Groundhog Day for Brisbane as they repeated last week’s horror start against Canberra, conceding an early high tackle penalty and ultimately the opening four-pointer.
Chris Heighington sliced the Brisbane defence up the middle before linking with the ever-presentÂ Brett Hodgson for the opening points.
Hodgson comfortably added the extras to get the visitors off to a flyer, 6-nil in front after just seven minutes.
The Tigers looked like surrendering the early advantage immediately after knocking on from the re-start, but the Broncos couldn’t manufacture a try, and had to settle for a penalty goal to Michael Ennis to cut the deficit to four.
Wests continued to give the home side a piggy-back downfield through penalties, and Brisbane were level in the 16th minute, when Joel Moon forced his way over off the back of a crisp cut-out pass from Ennis.
Brisbane’s makeshift halfback added the extras to give the home side the lead.
Denan Kemp went desperately close to extending the Brisbane lead in the 28th minute, but was ruled to have gone into touch prior to planting the ball down in the corner.
Hodgson then squared the game at eight off the back of a penalty.
The teams looked set to go to the break with the scores tied, but the Tigers got some possession off the back of a scrum, and a brilliant no-look cutout pass from Mathew Head hit Dean Halatau on the chest to put the visitors in front on the stroke of half time.
The Tigers started the second half full of confidence and were looking likely to extend their half-time advantage, before a timely intercept from hulking prop Dave Taylor released the pressure valve for the home side.
Taylor showed considerable pace as well to surge into the Tigers half, before being run down by fellow prop Bryce Gibbs.
Brisbane followed up on the fortuitous intercept with a soft try to Denan Kemp, and Ennis bought the Brisbane crowd to with a cracking touchline conversion to give Brisbane a 14-12 advantage with just under half an hour to play.
All the momentum was with the Broncos, Nick Kenny slid his way over three minutes later to extend the home side’s lead out to six.
Ennis was unable to add the extras to extend the Brisbane’s lead to beyond a converted try, a miss would very nearly proved costly before the result was secured off the boot of Hunt.
BRISBANE 19 (D Kemp N Kenny J Moon tries M Ennis 3 goals K Hunt field goal)
WESTS TIGERS 18 (L Fulton D Halatau B Hodgson tries B Hodgson 3 goals)