The Wests Tigers have kept their season alive this afternoon with a 42-24 win over the Brisbane Broncos.
The Broncos looked the better side for the first hour of the match, but poor errors and ill-discipline gave the Tigers enough chances to stay close.
When they clicked late in the game, the Broncos couldn’t respond.
The Broncos were full of intent early and were the first to score after an errant Luke Brooks pass gave the Broncos field position.
Brodie Croft went at the line before passing out the back to Tesi Niu.
Quick passing from Niu and Herbie Farnworth allowed Corey Oates to score in the corner.
After a penalty goal for a time clock expiry for a scrum, the Broncos were 8-0 after just ten minutes.
An error by Croft in the play the ball and a couple of set restarts gave the Tigers the chance to hit back five minutes later.
Stefano Utoikamanu got the offload away close to the line. Jacob Liddle put Adam Doueihi in space and he turned it inside to Luciano Leilua who crashed over.
However, in the set straight after points, Luke Garner knocked on early in the count.
Tyson Gamble took advantage via a grubber into the in-goal, with Jordan Riki diving on the ball.
The Broncos were in control but a number of mistakes kept the Tigers close.
Wests got the chance to hit back when Jamayne Isaako was taken over the sideline on a kick return, with ten minutes left in the half.
On the last tackle, the Tigers pushed play to their right and a Doueihi cut out ball put David Nofoaluma over in the corner.
Wests were back within two points.
The Broncos were the last ones to score last in the half. Kotoni Staggs broke the line and the ensuing play earned a set restart.
Croft found Payne Haas on the charge and his classy offload put Thomas Flegler away who gave the Broncos an eight-point lead at halftime.
The Tigers kicked off the scoring just five minutes into the second half, after a high shot from Riki. Wests went to the Broncos left edge again.
Doueihi held up the ball nicely for Dane Laurie who beat Farnworth to score.
From the next set, Laurie ran eighty metres from dummy half to get the Broncos defence backpedalling.
They terrorised Brisbane’s left edge again with Luke Brooks and Doueihi combining to put Tommy Talau over. By the ten minute mark of the second half, the Tigers were in front.
The Broncos regained the lead minutes later after marching downfield. Gamble put Riki through a hole and he eventually found Staggs inside who put the Broncos back in front by four.
As we’ve seen so often this season, ill-discipline from the Broncos, and the inability to defend their mistakes, finally brought them undone.
A Flegler high shot late in the count, with twenty minutes remaining, gave the Tigers the chance they needed.
The Broncos’ left edge was again targeted and Talau crossed for his second.
With twelve minutes remaining, Isaako flew high above the pack but couldn’t hold on to a Brooks bomb.
Camped on the Broncos line, a Doueihi grubber caused chaos in the Brisbane in goal and Nofoaluma claimed his second. The Tigers were a converted try in front.
From there, it was a procession. Perhaps scarred by the last try, Isaako didn’t contest the next Brooks’ bomb.
Ken Maumolo took the catch and passed to Junior Pauga who slid over the try line on debut.
With five minutes remaining, Utoikamanu made sure of the win by trampling Jake Turpin and slamming the ball down for the 40-24 win.
The Tigers find themselves just one win outside the eight. Michael Maguire was impressed with the fightback and felt the team camaraderie was evident.
Kevin Walters was disappointed in the Broncos performance, missing multiple chances to put the Tigers away in the first half. Lack of resilience in defence also concerned him.
As the Broncos lament on the loss, coach Kevin Walters praised Payne Haas’ efforts and admits not many others followed his lead.
“Not as many followed him today, I’ve got to say,” Walters said.
“Payne just continues to be one of our best players every week, and that’s why he is the player that he is.
“Obviously we’d be delighted to have him as a long-term player here at the club.”
The Wests Tigers are now just one win outside the eight and coach Michael Maguire destiny is in their own hands.
“There’s a massive opportunity in front of us,” Maguire said.
“We’ve spoken about what we want to achieve.
“We’ve learnt plenty of harsh lessons and some great lessons about what we need to do.”
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3 points: In his return to the five-eighth role, Adam Doueihi (WST) bagged five try assists in a man of the match performance.
He menaced the Broncos goal-line defence all afternoon and they couldn’t find any answers.
2 points: Payne Haas (BRI) is the key man in the Broncos forward pack and he proved it again today, running for close to 200m in an impressive showing.
1 point: Stefano Utoikamanu (WST) has knocked Alex Twal back to the bench and he showed us why today.
An offload leading to a try, a powerful try himself and 31 tackles himself would have impressed Maguire.