Warrington upset Broncos in World Club Series
The Broncos have been outmuscled by an under-manned Warrington outfit in a World Club Series clash that reached boiling point before the Wolves triumphed 27-12 at Halliwell Jones Stadium.
With many of their stars playing their first game of the season Brisbane were slow out of the blocks and rarely saw the ball in the first quarter, Wolves racing out to a 20-0 lead inside 18 minutes with England international Kevin Brown orchestrating everything in his first appearance for Warrington.
A spectacular try to Corey Oates got the Broncos on the board in the 25th minute but Brisbane conceded a fourth try just before half-time to trail 24-6 at the break.
The Broncos started the second half with far greater purpose and were rewarded when James Roberts ran 90 metres from a scrum to reduce the margin to 12 points but he was lucky to stay on the field when the match exploded 20 minutes from full-time.
Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough and Warrington skipper and former Knights legend Kurt Gidley grappled, Mike Cooper and Jai Arrow exchanged blows and then Roberts came in late to further inflame the situation.
He was guilty of the same offence shortly thereafter when David Mead and Brown shaped up but referee Phil Bentham went for just a penalty for Warrington rather than sending Roberts for a stint in the sin-bin.
Warrington's contingent of players who had spent time in the NRL were enormous for the home side with former Dragons prop Cooper inspirational up front, Ashton Sims charging with purpose against his former club and former Titan Matty Russell busting plenty of tackles on the wing to go with a superb try where he beat four Brisbane defenders.
With the game boiling over and delicately poised at 24-12 it was a charge by Cooper that gave Warrington half Declan Patton the time to pot a field goal 18 minutes from the end and he earned his side a penalty that extended the lead to 27-12 in the 65th minute.
Mead scored his first try as a Bronco when opposite Tom Lineham failed to collect a Darius Boyd kick into the in-goal with nine minutes left to play but they were unable to make any further inroads, losing to an English side for the first time since going down to St Helens in 2007.
The scrutiny Ben Hunt will be under all season was on display in the second minute when Joe Westerman charged down an attacking kick and Brown scored from the ensuing play and an uncharacteristic error from Jordan Kahu led to a Patton penalty goal and an early 8-0 advantage.
A penalty against Joe Ofahengaue gave Wolves the field position for Brown to put Ryan Atkins over and when Russell weaved through some wayward Broncos defence the 12,082 fans went into a state of delirium as to what was unfolding.
Going into the game without skipper Chris Hill, back-rower Ben Currie and fullback Stefan Ratchford Wolves exposed Brisbane's soft underbelly with young props Joe Ofahengaue and Herman Ese'ese unable to match the ferociousness of Cooper, Sims and Westerman.
Warrington completed at 100 per cent as they built a lead that would prove insurmountable with the passion displayed by both teams in the second half promising to reinvigorate a concept that had come into question.
Andrew McCullough and Sam Thaiday did their best to lift the energy levels of the Broncos as they launched their fightback but it was Tevia Pangai Jnr and George Fai from the bench who gave the Broncos some energy through the middle of the field.
Warrington Wolves 27 (Kevin Brown, Ryan Atkins, Matty Russell, Tom Lineham tries; Declan Patton 5 goals, Declan Patton field goal) def. Brisbane Broncos 18 (Corey Oates, James Roberts, David Mead tries; Jordan Kahu 3 goals) at Halliwell Jones Stadium. Crowd: 12,082. Man of the match: Kevin Brown.