Emphatic Broncos charge into grand final
A rampant Brisbane Broncos have qualified for their seventh grand final after steamrolling the Roosters 31-12 in a frenetic preliminary final at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Brisbane scored inside the opening minute via a Darius Boyd intercept and jumped out to a 16-0 lead after 20 minutes before the Roosters responded with two tries to Blake Ferguson.
The Broncos crossed again on the stroke of half-time and added another two tries during the second stanza before Anthony Milford iced the 19-point victory with a 63rd-minute field goal.
The Roosters were their own worst enemy – making 11 errors and completing their sets at only 66 per cent – which didn’t help the visitors lower the volume inside Suncorp Stadium as the home crowd of 51,826 roared with every piece of positive play made by the Broncos.
The Origin-like atmosphere suited Brisbane as they channelled the energy of their fans to lead 20-12 at half-time.
While the Broncos thoroughly deserved their victory, the Roosters' chances of mounting a second-half comeback took a blow when Mitchell Pearce failed to return after succumbing to a knee injury.
The only sour note for the Broncos came when skipper Justin Hodges was placed on report for a lifting tackle during the second half.
The Broncos opened the scoring inside the first minute in extraordinary circumstances when Boyd latched onto a wayward Shaun Kenny-Dowell pass.
After receiving the ball from the kick-off the Broncos lumbered up just short of the halfway line with Ben Hunt, who scored one try and laid on two try-assists, skewing his fifth-tackle kick towards Kenny-Dowell's wing.
Seemingly worried about getting pushed into touch by the onrushing defenders, the Roosters winger attempted a 20-metre cross-field pass to Tuivasa-Sheck only to have Boyd read the play and pluck the Steeden out of the air and race 22 metres untouched at the Milton Road end of Suncorp Stadium.
Corey Parker's conversion handed the Broncos a 6-0 lead as the Brisbane faithful came to life with deafening noise.
A penalty on the fourth tackle allowed the visitors their first crack at Brisbane's line but they were denied by some typically resolute defence from the hosts.
Just as it appeared the decibel level inside 'The Cauldron' couldn’t get any higher, the Broncos added another four points in the 11th minute through Hunt.
Kicking on the last, Hunt placed a grubber behind the Roosters' goal-line with Tuivasa-Sheck dwelling on whether to swat the ball dead for too long allowing Brisbane winger Jordan Kahu to bat the ball back from over the touch in-goal.
Hunt was involved again for Brisbane's third try as he combined with Milford to send Andrew McCullough over the line for a 16-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Hodges sent a scare through the Broncos camp when he hit the turf in the 22nd minute with what appeared to be lower back injury.
The retiring centre left the field shortly afterwards but returned to the field prior to half-time.
The Roosters weren't prepared to go down without a fight and soon found their rhythm inside Brisbane's half and responded with two quick-fire tries to Ferguson in the 23rd and 29th minute to take the score to 16-12.
Both of Ferguson's tries were reminiscent of each other as the powerful centre schooled opposite number Jack Reed to hand the visitors momentum heading towards the final 10 minutes of the half.
The frantic first half continued before the break as the Broncos lifted another gear as a result of the Roosters' fightback.
However, with 15 seconds left on the clock, Hunt delivered a perfect ball which cut out two Roosters defenders to find Oates in the corner for a 20-12 Brisbane lead at half-time.
Down at the break, the Roosters jumped out of the blocks in empathic fashion during their first set and had claims for a try denied by the video referee.
Referee Gerard Sutton signalled for a try, but on closer inspection Ferguson was deemed to have lost the ball into Reed to deny Kenny-Dowell a four-pointer after he collected the crumbs from the aerial challenge.
It took the Broncos eight minutes to respond and they did so via Milford who collected his own grubber kick to hand his side a 14-point lead after Jordan Kahu's conversion.
Brisbane nearly extended their lead in the 53rd minute when Corey Oates had claims for a try only for the replay to show the 20-year-old had placed his left boot on the touchline.
Moments later the Tricolours had a try of their own denied by the video referee, although the decision was correctly ruled no-try due to an Aidan Guerra knock-on.
The Roosters tried throwing the ball around inside their own half in a desperate search for points, but their enterprise led to an error and the Broncos capitalised straight away with a try to Reed in the 60th minute.
Corey Parker's conversion struck the post to leave the Roosters trailing by 18 points.
James Maloney attempted a short kick-off from the restart but could only find Parker who charged back up the field which eventually allowed Milford to slot a drop goal for a 19-point Brisbane lead with as many minutes remaining.
From that point the Broncos knew they were home and hosed, seeing out the match without conceding any second-half points to book their place in the ANZ Stadium decider against either the Melbourne Storm or North Queensland Cowboys.
Brisbane Broncos 31 (Darius Boyd, Ben Hunt, Andrew McCullough, Corey Oates, Anthony Milford, Jack Reed tries; Corey Parker 2, Jordan Kahu goals; Milford field goal) defeated Sydney Roosters 12 (Blake Ferguson 2 tries; James Maloney 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 51,826. Half-time: Brisbane 20-12. On report: Justin Hodges (Broncos).