Coming into the game on the back of four consecutive losses, Brisbane’s premiership ambitions took a huge hit as they fell 19-18 in a classic contest between the two powerhouse clubs in Round 24 last year.
The Broncos needed a victory to secure their spot in the top eight and gather some momentum at the right time of year – and it looked like they were well on track when they jumped out to an early 12-0 lead courtesy of tries to Justin Hodges and Ben Te’o.
But luck turned ugly for the home side.
Shortly before half-time, video referee Paul Simpkins awarded a try to Melbourne winger Sisa Waqa despite replays clearly showing that he had lost the ball.
And two minutes into the second half, Cooper Cronk’s grubber looked to be covered until it struck the post, allowing Cronk to chase through, gather his own kick and level the scores.
The two sides traded tries to make it 18-all with 10 minutes remaining until Cronk was at it again – slotting a field-goal in the 74th minute to secure victory for the eventual premiers.
There was nothing between the sides as they split possession 50 per cent each although Melbourne ran for a few extra metres with 1424 to Brisbane’s 1360. Cronk was dominant with the boot, kicking for 578 metres, with Cameron Smith adding 45 tackles and five tackle-breaks.
Justin Hodges was the Broncos’ best with 202 metres and 11 tackle-breaks.