Brisbane grind out controversial win over Tigers
A contentious penalty against the Wests Tigers in golden point extra-time has gifted the Brisbane Broncos a 9-7 victory at Campbelltown Stadium on Friday night.
Wests Tigers fans were up in arms after the match following a decision to blow a penalty against Robbie Rochow for not being square at marker while chasing down a field goal attempt.
Unheralded 21-year-old Broncos winger Jamayne Isaako was the man of the moment, kicking the penalty goal to win the game after playing a major hand in taking the match to golden point.
The Tigers led 6-4 heading into the final minutes but successive penalty and field goals from Isaako gave the Broncos a one-point buffer with two minutes remaining.
However, Tigers halfback Luke Brooks would have the final say in regular time, sending the match into golden point with a last-ditch field goal of his own that sent the crowd into raptures.
The Broncos got a penalty 30 metres out and Isaako made no mistake, denying the Tigers what would have been the first time the club opened a season with three consecutive wins in the joint venture’s 19-season history.
Match: Wests Tigers vs Broncos
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
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The Broncos didn't score a try in the match, kicking four penalty goals and a field goal in what was the first time in almost six years the Wests Tigers held a team tryless.
To understand the enormity of the Tigers' achievements over the first three weeks, you have to put it into the context of how far they have come in 12 months.
After three rounds last year, which coincidentally was the point in the season in which the club decided to sack coach Jason Taylor, the Tigers had conceded 100 points.
At the same point this year, they've now conceded just 25, doing so against the teams that finished last year's competition in first, second and third respectively.
In the opening fortnight of the competition the Tigers displayed a resilience and toughness that has rarely been associated with the club.
They knocked over their highly fancied counterparts through sheer grit and willingness to work for each other in defence.
Defence is attitude, as they say. So as a coach, there's no doubt Cleary would have been happy to see defence outshining the attack.
Because attack they can work on, and given they'd only scored two tries in the opening two games, work on it they needed.
After 40 minutes, the only adjustments to the scoreboard were respective penalty goals to the two teams, making it three straight games the Tigers didn’t score or concede a try.
Again, showing that the attitude needed to win football games was well and truly part of their make up in 2018.
Ball security was almost non-existent in the opening half, with the strong crowd at Campbelltown Sports Stadium exposed to an error-riddled opening stanza.
It came at a price for Brisbane, who lost winger Corey Oates to a leg injury midway through the opening half.
The second half started identical to the first, with a Brisbane penalty goal slotted between the posts by Isaako.
Broncos marquee man Jack Bird made his debut for the club, returning from a shoulder injury that forced him out of the opening two rounds of the season.
The Broncos centre was rarely sighted until a contentious moment in the 51st minute, where he was denied a try by the bunker who ruled he didn’t ground a Darius Boyd grubber despite getting finger tips to the ball.
The Tigers made the most of the break, going down the other end of the field to score the opening try of the night through some smart football from halfback Luke Brooks.
The Tigers No.7 recognised Boyd defending in the front line and placed a grubber behind the Broncos defence on the third tackle, sitting it up nicely for Michael Chee Kam to collect and slam down for a 6-4 lead.
Isaako then got the Broncos back into the contest and sealed the deal in golden point.