Broncos snatch late win over Panthers
A last-minute try to replacement forward Corey Oates has enabled the Brisbane Broncos to maintain their position at the top of the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder, outlasting a pesky Penrith Panthers outfit 8-5 in a thrilling yet low-scoring affair at Suncorp Stadium.
Having botched a field goal from in front of the posts just two minutes earlier, Broncos halfback Ben Hunt refused to take another shot to tie the match as the clock wound down, instead opting to try his luck on the right edge in the 79th minute.
Having taken until the 35th minute to score the only other try of the game, Hunt's gamble paid the ultimate dividend when Oates crashed through the attempted tackle of Panthers five-eighth Jamie Soward before slamming the ball into the turf.
It was a match the Broncos appeared in control of for the most part but the Panthers' gritty defence and their willingness to throw caution to the wind kept them in the contest.
Having not lead for the entire game, the Panthers took an unlikely 5-4 lead with less than five minutes remaining when Matt Moylan, his fractured right hand heavily bandaged, potted a field goal to add to his two earlier penalty goals.
But you always sensed there was another twist in this tale and having been denied five tries by the video referee throughout the course of the game, the Broncos finally found their second to send the majority of the 24,566 fans home happy.
After the Broncos took a 4-2 lead into half-time, Penrith took up much of the running early in the second stanza before a dangerous tackle by Panthers back-rower Tyrone Peachey literally turned the game on its head.
Often capable of producing the sublime Peachey verged into the territory of ridiculousness in the 60th minute that could have major repercussions in the coming weeks.
With the Panthers enjoying a good period of the game midway through the second half, Peachey spilt a pass from Soward trying to come back on an angled run and when Adam Blair took the ball from his grasp he dumped him dangerously into the turf, placed on report for a dangerous throw.
Pre-game much of the focus was on the returns of former Dragons teammates Darius Boyd and Jamie Soward and it only took until the sixth minute before the Penrith playmaker made his presence felt in the first try-scoring opportunity of the night.
Following an extraordinary passage of play that began on the tackle prior, Panthers halfback Isaac John put up a bomb in the right corner and after a regather, flick pass, tap-on, offload by Nigel Plum and long cut-out pass to Soward on the left, the Penrith pivot set sail for the try-line.
Although he grounded the ball at his second attempt, the cover-defending tackle by winger Jordan Kahu had jolted the ball free and the try was denied.
Six tackles later the Broncos had their own claims rejected at the other end of the field when Kahu leapt high above the Panthers defenders to take a Ben Hunt bomb but the four Panthers who quickly surrounded him ensured the Steeden would not find the surface.
The Panthers' free-wheeling forays with the footy threatened to open up the Broncos defence but it was the home side who went within inches of scoring in the 19th minute, Alex Glenn ruled to have been brought down just short of the try-line.
Eventually the deadlock had to be broken and it came on the back of a veteran's penalty by Justin Hodges who hood-winked Panthers winger George Jennings 30m out from the Broncos try-line.
The Broncos were able to start the next set just on their own side of halfway and four tackles later created an overlap on the right side. Five-eighth Anthony Milford drifted across field and with Hodges threatening to come back on the angle, Jennings was lured off his wing to leave Jordan Kahu with a saloon passage for the first points of the night after 36 minutes.
The Panthers weren't held scoreless though with a chip-and-chase by Dallin Watene-Zelezniak extracting a penalty from Milford for a tackle without the ball, Moylan slotted the penalty goal from wide out for a 4-2 scoreline at the break.
Brisbane Broncos 8 (Jordan Kahu, Corey Oates tries) def. Penrith Panthers 5 (Matt Moylan 2 goals; Moylan field goal) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 24,566. Half-time: Broncos 4-2. On report: Tyrone Peachey (Panthers, 60th minute).