Broncos v Wests Tigers: Five key points
It was the third time the Broncos have lost a game by one point this season, but they almost pulled the match out of the fire despite being dominated in the middle of the field. Here are five key points from the Wests Tigers dramatic win over the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
Tigers in rare patch of form
Wests Tigers went into Friday's match with history against them. The Tigers had only managed one win from their last 11 against the Broncos and to compound this, Wests had only come away with premiership points on five occasions against Brisbane in their history. None of this mattered to the Tigers' players, with the team dominating field position from start to finish. They should have won by more after having 54 per cent of possession, but they just did enough to get the two points. For Brisbane, it is their third one-point loss of the season. These close finishes may come back to bite them at the end of the year, with a two-point loss to Sharks their only other defeat. The Tigers now have three wins from their last four games and are making a charge towards the Top 8.
Wests dominate the middle
A Broncos team missing four players of their usual forward pack was always going to struggle in the middle of the field and the Tigers took full advantage. Josh McGuire, Corey Parker, Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillett were all missing for Brisbane, with debutants Jaydn Su'A and Tevita Pangai Jnr thrust into first grade. It was a tough coming of age for a young Broncos pack, with Wests dominating the run metres - running for 1,719 metres compared to Brisbane's 1,350. The experience of Tigers forwards Tim Grant, Chris Lawrence and Elijah Taylor overpowered Brisbane up the middle and ultimately delivered Wests superior field position for the entirety of the match and the win.
Wests Tigers early kicking woes
Wests managed to kick four dead in the first 20 minutes of play. This resulted in the Broncos having four seven tackle sets very early in the match. That is simply gifting the Broncos field position and scoring opportunities, which you can't do against a side of such quality. Tigers halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks needed to be better early on and capitalise on their great field position. Wests need to start their matches better and they won't be able to do that if they continue with poor 5th tackle options. Granted they improved as the match went on, but not before they gifted Brisbane eight early points within the first 20 minutes. Wests were lucky that the Broncos didn't take full advantage, with the young Brisbane forwards struggling with their go forward and making too many errors coming out of their own end. The inexperience of the Broncos showed early and it was a nervous start from a team stripped of their usual star power.
Broncos' disastrous right-side defence
A new look right-side defence in Ben Hunt, Jaydn Su'A, James Roberts and Lachlan Maranta struggled to form any defensive cohesion, looking out of sorts whenever the Tigers ran at the line. Wests' first two tries came down their left edge, with the out of sorts right edge of the Broncos scrambling time and time again. The absence of the ever-reliable second-row forward Matt Gillett on State of Origin duty affected Brisbane immensely. Gillett is arguably the Broncos' best defender and it was a hard act to follow for debutant Su'A. Jordan Kahu, who usually defends on Brisbane's right wing, was moved to fullback. This left Maranta and Roberts to try and form a centre/wing combination with both having little experience working together. A third try was almost conceded on the right edge of the Broncos, but Tigers centre Tim Simona knocked on over the line. Wests did get their third try down their left side late in the second half and it rubbed salt into the wounds of the Broncos' right edge, with all of the Tigers' tries coming down that side of the field.
Eden gets his first
English recruit Greg Eden crossed for his first try in the NRL in the 11th minute. It was a just reward for the 25-year-old who has sacrificed so much to realise his childhood dream. It took until his fourth game for Brisbane to break the drought, but it was worth the wait, finishing off a superb backline move to cross in the corner. Fullback Jordan Kahu threw a brilliant cut-out ball to find Eden and it was a pass that Darius Boyd would have been proud of. What makes Eden's first try so remarkable is the journey he has endured to achieve it. Eden first arrived in New South Wales in 2010, playing Group Nine football with the Temora Dragons. Six years on and he is an NRL try-scorer.