The Broncos' NRLW premiership-winning run is over after the Roosters launched a stunning comeback to earn their way into the final against the Dragons.
The biggest upset in NRLW history was made even more remarkable given heavy favourites Brisbane raced out to a 16-0 lead with a one-player advantage due to Roosters hooker Olivia Higgins being sin-binned shortly before Brisbane's third try.
The three-time premiers started like a house on fire, with some help from the Roosters making repeated errors inside their own end.
Amber Hall stepped around Zahara Temara to open the scoring in the ninth minute and Julia Robinson scored in the corner in the next set off an Amy Turner line break.
Olivia Higgins was sin-binned in the 14th minute with Chelsea Lenarduzzi's huge carry and offload helping Millie Boyle make it 16-0.
Tufuga gets the Roosters a massive boost
From there though, the Roosters rallied and spent most of the rest of the half camped in Brisbane's end; Isabelle Kelly crossed of a lovely Raecene McGregor offload and Leianne Tufuga off a Corban Baxter cut-out to bring the score back to 16-10 at the break.
A Keilee Joseph try levelled up early in the second half and the upset was well and truly on when Roosters playmaker Jocelyn Kelleher scored from dummy half with 10 minutes to play.
The Roosters made some nervous mistakes in the final minutes as they attempted to close out the win but despite being handed a few opportunities, the Broncos couldn't find a way to level up as they missed an NRLW final for the first time.
Match: Broncos v Roosters
Semi Final -
Venue: Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
- Broncos lock Lavinia Gould was sent for an HIA just four minutes into the contest following some high contact and subsequently failed, so will need to pass through HIA protocols to feature in the grand final.
- Roosters hooker Olivia Higgins was sin-binned in the first half for making a tackle from an offside position after a quick penalty tap was taken by Lauren Brown. Although the Broncos scored almost immediately afterwards, the Roosters handled the period well with the teams scoring one try apiece while it was 13 on 12.
Tufuga gets the Roosters a massive boost
- The Roosters let a few points go begging, with Isabelle Kelly making a line break but not looking left where Jess Sergis was in support in the first half, and Sergis passing to Tufuga when she probably should have gone herself in the second.
- Roosters playmaker Zahara Temara had a mixed first half but really piled the pressure on Brisbane with some well-placed kicks in the second half to go with three important conversions.
- Roosters bench forward Keilee Joseph was placed on report for a hip-drop tackle.
- Brisbane conceded 22 unanswered points to get run down from a position of dominance in one of the most unexpected results in NRLW history.
Play of the game
The Roosters almost scored their opening try as Jocelyn Kelleher was brought down just short of the line. But from the very next play, Raecene McGregor popped an incredible offload for Isabelle Kelly to score and kick start one of the great comebacks.
Kelly gets one back
What they said
"I have been involved in a lot of games as a player and coach, and I have never been prouder than I am today. On Tuesday we spoke quite a bit about a lot of things that have happened in the first five rounds .... just so the girls could really understand we are a really good team. If things even out or we get the bounce of the ball, I felt like we could win the game for sure." - Roosters coach John Strange.
"It's obviously extremely disappointing. To miss out on going through to next week. I know we haven't been quite at our best, we have been a really good team through the season to finish on top there. But once that momentum changed in the first half we failed to get it back. They probably got fortunate with a few calls there that got them back into the game." - Broncos coach Kelvin Wright.
NRLW Press Conference: Broncos v Roosters - Semi Final, 2021
The Roosters will meet the Dragons in next week's NRLW grand final at Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe on Sunday. They'll be hopeful of having Keilee Joseph available after she was placed on report for a hip drop tackle.
Most of Brisbane's squad will return to Queensland's BMD Premiership from next week to begin state league preparations.