A 76th-minute penalty goal from second-string goal-kicker Ben Hunt has given Brisbane a gripping 16-14 victory over the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday night.
With the game locked at 14-all, lead referee Gavin Badger penalised Tigers winger Pat Richards for tackling his opposite Lachlan Maranta without the ball, controversially handing Hunt the opportunity for the game-winning shot at goal.
It was a rapid-fire start from both teams that treated the standing room-only crowd of 16,511 – and, in celebration of its 15th year anniversary, the original Wests Tigers team from 2000 - to some early end-to-end action not normally associated with the busy representative season.
The home side's adventurous, energetic display was in direct contrast to a more measured, disciplined Broncos outfit that absorbed everything their opponents could throw at them.
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But Brisbane's third-minute converted try proved to be the only points of the first half and it came from second-rower Corey Oates, whose steaming run against the grain was matched by a supreme face-ball from Hunt.
The Tigers' best chance of the half came in the 27th minute, when a stray Broncos pass on halfway was toed ahead and picked up by Richards, but his run to the opposite corner was slowed down just enough by Ben Barba for his Brisbane teammates to recover and bundle a supporting David Nofoaluma into touch.
A half-time rev-up from coach Mick Potter proved just the tonic for the hosts, who crossed for their first points just two minutes after the resumption.
A standard punt from halfback Luke Brooks ricocheted off Hunt but the burgeoning youngster was quickest to react, toeing the ball forward twice before diving on it just short of the dead-ball line. Richards' boot tied the game at six.
But the Tigers immediately undid all of Brooks' good work with a mistake, then a penalty, in the next set that gifted Hunt a further two points to the right of the sticks.
From there the game's breakneck speed descended into a more familiar arm-wrestle, which the merger-club looked to have won when Brooks' 59th minute dink behind the line off his wrong foot was perfectly placed for second-rower Bodene Thompson to score.
Brisbane didn't take long to reply, regaining their lead when Ben Hunt's 63rd minute crossfield kick was picked out of the air by soaring winger Lachlan Maranta, who popped it back for Oates to nab his second.
As the game entered the final quarter play began to open up and when Broncos prop Jarrod Wallace was penalised for trying to slow it down again, Richards was only glad to answer skipper Braith Anasta's decision to pot the penalty over from 42m out and level the game at 14-all.
But it was another penalty shot in the dying minutes that would keep the Tigers winless against their interstate counterparts at Campbelltown in six attempts.Wests Tigers 14
(Brooks, Thompson tries; Richards 3 goals) def. by Brisbane Broncos 16
(Oates 2 tries; Hunt 4 goals). Crowd: