Injury-wrecked Roosters hold on in epic
The Roosters have pulled off one of the gutsiest wins of 2015, holding on in a thrilling 12-10 finish against the Broncos after being reduced to one man on the bench.
In a match of countless twists and turns, each side pulled of a series of amazing try-saving efforts on their own line after the Roosters lost prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves for the season then halfback Mitchell Pearce for several weeks inside the opening quarter of the game.
A concussed Kane Evans was rubbed out 13 minutes from time but it didn't stop Roosters pivot James Maloney guiding his side to an unbelievable victory after huge efforts from the Roosters' remaining forwards in a result that pushes them to the top of the table.
In the end it was a Maloney goal that proved the only difference on the scoreboard in a two-tries apiece affair after the home side had led 8-0 at half-time.
Luckily for a Roosters team badly running out of gas in the closing stages, they had forced Brisbane to make 80 more tackles in a first half where the visitors barely got out of their own end.
A gripping and tense opening 40 saw the Roosters lose two key men to injury yet still pile mountains of pressure on a Brisbane side that was somewhat lucky to only be eight behind at half-time after a number of Roosters opportunities only just failed to lead to points.
A controlled opening 10 minutes, in which each team seemed to be feeling the other out while completing six straight sets apiece, eventually saw the home side take the lead through a James Maloney penalty goal.
A double disaster struck immediately after though; first Waerea-Hargreaves was bent awkwardly in a tackle and immediately taken from the field and sent for an MRI scan on his right knee.
Not even five minutes later halfback Pearce, backing up a Jake Friend half break from dummy half, stretched out to receive a pass intended to send the playmaker over for the opening try of the match but the pass was in front of him and he stayed down after diving for the ball before going off with a hamstring injury.
The Broncos hung on again shortly after when first Blake Ferguson and then Jake Friend were repelled at the line, then enjoyed a huge let-off in the 27th minute when the video referee denied Ferguson a try from a Maloney bomb after a close inspection revealed a tiny knock on from winger Brendan Elliot.
Brisbane finally cracked in the 30th minute when a well-worked right-side move and quick hands from Jackson Hastings, Tuivasa-Sheck and Ferguson created an overlap for Elliott to score.
When Ferguson barged over in the 37th minute the Broncos were again off the hook when a desperate last-ditch effort from Oates knocked the ball from Ferguson's grasp, then Aidan Guerra spun over between the posts to seemingly score on the stroke of half-time but the pass from Friend was found to be forward.
A silly offload from winger Daniel Tupou handed the Broncos an opportunity shortly after half-time and on one of their first forays into Roosters territory, a well-worked right-side move and quick hands from Justin Hodges sent Jordan Kahu over.
The Roosters stretched it back out to 12-6 shortly after as Kahu went from hero to villain, missing a Maloney grubber that Boyd Cordner pounced on.
The Broncos began to edge momentum and a big set in the 60th minute, typically featuring big charges and offloads from Corey Parker, got them in range for a Ben Hunt cut-out to send Corey Oates across in the left corner, but Parker missed the crucial conversion.
The match built in intensity with every tiny momentum swing being roared by the crowd. The frantic closing stages saw a brilliant try-saver from Ferguson on Alex Glenn then one from Oates on Ferguson. The 68th minute saw Evans taken from the field after a head clash with Hodges left him groggy, reducing the Roosters bench to just one.
The Broncos launched one final assault in the dying stages, marching downfield and forcing a dropout with one minute remaining, but when a high pass from Anthony Milford saw the ball go into touch the Roosters had hung on, much to the delight of a rapturous home crowd.
Sydney Roosters 12 (Elliot, Cordner tries; Maloney 2 goals) defeated Brisbane Broncos 10 (Kahu, Oates tries; Oates goal) at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: 8-0.