Big finish gets Broncos home in thriller
The Broncos have snapped a three-game losing streak with a thrilling 28-22 victory over the Warriors in a see-sawing contest in front over 37,000 fans that came out in force to support RiseForAlex Round.
Brisbane overcame an early 12-0 deficit after as many minutes to hold the lead 16-12 heading into half-time. The Warriors led 22-18 midway through the second half until two tries to Dale Copley, who finished the match with 209 metres and four line breaks, broke the game open for Brisbane.
Despite a late charge by a desperate Warriors side, the Broncos defence manage to hold strong even though they were made to face four of the last six sets of the match.
With Jack Reed, Daniel Vidot and Corey Oates all omitted on match eve after a mid-week night out on the town, Anthony Griffin brought in an untested left-edge combination of Copley and Jordan Kahu, with the latter playing in his first NRL match of the season.
The Warriors first cracked Brisbane's line in the fourth minute when skipper Simon Mannering strolled over the line after being sent through a hole by Chad Townsend. Shaun Johnson's reliable right boot took the visitors' lead out to 6-0, but that lead was soon to be doubled six minutes later through the dangerous Sam Tomkins.
Utilising a staggering 81 per cent of possession in the opening 10 minutes, a strong run by back-rower Ben Henry had the Broncos on the back foot, which enabled Tomkins to catch Brisbane napping by darting over the line from dummy half. Johnson took the Warriors out to a 12-0 advantage with his conversion to leave the Broncos wondering when they'd touch the ball again.
Sam Thaiday managed to earn his side a penalty in the 14th minute, allowing the home side their first opportunity to attack the opposition line. From the resulting set a Corey Parker short-ball to Ben Hannant saw the big blonde bopper crash over the try line from close range to take the score to 12-6 after Parker's conversion.
The visitors threated to extend their lead back to 12 points in the 25th minute after it appeared that Tomkins had crossed the chalk, however the English international was denied by a desperate try-saving tackle by stand-in fullback Hoffman, who swapped positions with Ben Barba prior top kick-off. Brisbane then received a relieving penalty in the next set due to high contact on Andrew McCullough by Konrad Hurrell, allowing the home side to force a line-dropout and go on the attack again.
Chancing their arm on the last, Brisbane couldn't muster an opening in the Warriors' defensive line, but back-to-back mistakes by the New Zealanders in their next two sets allowed the Broncos to strike back with a try to Ben Hunt.
The in-form halfback received the ball from dummy half 20 metres out and decided to take on the Warriors defence, beating both Johnson and Tomkins to score his eighth try of the season. Parker ensured Hunt's clever work was rewarded by nailing the conversion to lock the score up at 12-12.
With the Warriors slacking off in the final minutes of the first half, the Broncos pounced with a try to winger Kahu in the 39th minute after the 23-year-old received a cut-out pass from Hunt to sneak over in the corner. Parker's conversion hit the right post to leave the scoreboard favouring the Broncos by 16-12 at the break.
Brisbane's half-time lead lasted all of two minutes as the Warriors took full advantage of a Broncos mistake from a bomb allowing Ben Henry to cross out wide from the resulting set. Johnson couldn't direct his conversion on target, keeping the score at 16-16.
As quick as the Broncos surrendered their lead they regained it just as fast via a Parker penalty goal, which took the score to 18-16 in the 46th minute. Just as the home side looked like posting further points, a fortuitous penalty gifted them prime field position and they didn't take long to make Brisbane pay.
Sweeping the ball out to the left, the Steeden found Ben Henry once again and the 22-year-old set course for the line to post his second four-pointer of the night despite the attention of three Broncos covering defenders. Shaun Johnson coolly slotted the extra points to hand the Kiwis a 22-18 lead in the 53rd minute.
A brief break in play to attend to a concussed Todd Lowrie allowed both sides a breather as the margin remained at four points heading into the final 20 minutes. Brisbane were the first side to snare points after the break in play when Dale Copley snuck over in the corner for his 13th try of the season.
Copley soon made that 14 tries for the year when he scored his second try of the night less than three minutes after his first. When Parker struck the conversion from out wide, the Broncos had turned a four-point deficit into a 28-22 lead inside the space of four minutes.
The Warriors kept attacking Brisbane's line in the final five minutes with the Broncos' lack of ball control allowing the visitors multiple chances at squaring the ledger. However, much to the relief of their fans, the Broncos managed to hold on to snap a three-game losing streak and more importantly keep them in touch with the top eight.
Brisbane Broncos 28 (Dale Copley 2, Ben Hannant, Ben Hunt, Jordan Kahu tries; Corey Parker 4 goals) def. New Zealand Warriors 22 (Ben Henry 2, Simon Mannering, Sam Tomkins tries; Shaun Johnson 3 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Half-time: Broncos 16-12. Crowd: 37,082.