Milford injured in Broncos win over Rabbitohs
The Brisbane Broncos have suffered a major injury blow in their 24-18 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs, losing five-eighth Anthony Milford to a left shoulder injury just minutes from full-time.
Milford fell awkwardly on his left arm diving on a loose ball in the 72nd minute, clutching at his shoulder immediately as trainers rushed to his aid.
He was taken from the field and into the sheds, with Kodi Nikorima and Benji Marshall seeing out the rest of the game in the halves.
It means Ben Hunt, who was dropped this week in favour of Marshall, might return a lot sooner than he first thought, depending of course on the severity of Milford's injury.
It was a sour finish to an otherwise happy night for the Broncos who leapt back into the top four with the hard-fought win.
The Rabbitohs pushed them all the way and their second-half performance will please coach Michael Maguire and their fans.
South Sydney started the second 40 on fire, dominating possession and scoring through Sam Burgess in the 45th minute. Halfback Adam Reynolds added the extra two points to level the scores at 12-all with 35 minutes to play.
Brisbane thought they had hit back in the 53rd minute with Tautau Moga crashing over the line, but the Bunker saw otherwise, ruling that the hulking centre had knocked on.
It was a contentious call that went the Rabbitohs' way and Bennett had seen enough of his side's half chances, taking off Nikorima and replacing him with Marshall to spark the Broncos' attack.
Moments later, South Sydney's defence cracked courtesy of some genius from Milford. The Queensland Maroon put through a pinpoint grubber kick to the corner for Kahu to score. Kahu failed to convert to leave the score at 16-12 with 20 minutes to play.
The Broncos suddenly had control of the match, extending their lead to 10 points in the 63rd minute when Adam Blair found Sam Thaiday with an exquisite short ball. Thaiday scored a rare four-pointer and Kahu slotted the extras to make it 22-12 in Brisbane's favour.
But the Rabbitohs set up an exciting finish when Angus Crichton crossed in the 75th minute, and when Reynolds converted South Sydney trailed by just four points.
However, they undid their good work three minutes from full-time, giving away a penalty from a botched short dropout.
Kahu took the two and Brisbane held on, winning 24-18 in a match that could have gone either way.
The Broncos will be content with the two points after starting the match disastrously, turning over possession just seconds into the clash.
The mistake came through Nikorima who knocked on off the kick-off, with the man who replaced Hunt bringing back memories of the 2015 grand final as he put his side immediately on the back foot.
But Nikorima's teammates rallied around him, and some stout defence from Brisbane's forwards saw the Broncos see off any potential threat.
Brisbane used this momentum to open the scoring in the 14th minute, with Boyd throwing a beautiful cut-out pass to winger Corey Oates who scored in the corner. Kahu made no mistake with the conversion to give the Broncos a 6-0 lead.
Matt Gillett scored just his second try of the year in the 19th minute courtesy of some Nikorima brilliance and Kahu added the extras to give Brisbane a 12-0 lead.
South Sydney hit back in the 25th minute when Bryson Goodwin latched onto an Reynolds cross-field kick to score next to the posts. Reynolds put his conversion attempt over the black dot to put the Rabbitohs back into the contest.
Moga came within inches of scoring on the stroke of half-time, but second-row forward Crichton came from nowhere to stop the 23-year-old short of the line.
It meant the scoreline stayed at 12-6, with Brisbane doing enough to deservedly lead at the break before sealing the deal with a resilient second half.
Brisbane Broncos 24 (Gillett, Oates, Kahu, Thaiday tries; Kahu 4 goals) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 (Goodwin, Crichton, Burgess tries; Reynolds 3 goals).
U20s: South Sydney Rabbitohs 28 defeated Brisbane Broncos 22. Crowd: 30,578