Round 17 kicked off on Friday night when the Brisbane Broncos narrowly lost their spot in the top eight as the Tigers defeated them in the dying minutes of the match 16 – 14 at Suncorp Stadium.
Prior to Friday’s game, Brisbane were in the sixth spot on the ladder having turned their season around winning six of their past seven games. But they are now down on the ninth rung after the third team in the competition outplayed them in the final moments on Friday night.
The Wests Tigers scored a late try to beat a weakened Broncos outfit by two, giving the Tigers their fifth win from their past six, and a nice confidence booster after they lost 34 – 10 to the Dragons in Round 16.
The Broncos were dealt an early blow when they lost forward Lagi Setu in training the Thursday before the match, but did well to hold their ground come Friday night.
They let the Tigers in with an early try and it looked like it might be a long night for the dedicated 30, 125 Brisbane fans braving the wet conditions. Chris Lawrence scored for the Tigers a mere two minutes in when he slipped through some feeble Broncos’ defence, and with Benji Marshall’s conversion the visitors had an early six point lead.
Keen to make up for their early era, Brisbane’s Ben Te’o was next to score, opening their account in the 17th minute. Corey Parker converted and the scores were tied six all.
As the clock ticked down to half time, Benji Marshall made a beautiful play inside the Tigers 20, intercepting the ball and sprinting 80 metres to score in the 33rd minute. Marshall went on to convert his own try, giving the Tigers the advantage.
Right on half time the Broncos were awarded a penalty and Parker booted it through the posts to narrow the margin 12 – 8 still in favour of the Tigers heading into the break.
In the second half Brisbane were the dominant side, the slippery conditions making it difficult for either team to play their best. Ten minutes back from the break, young Gerard Beale scored the Bronco’s second try, Parker making it a perfect record for the night and giving Brisbane the all important 14 – 12 lead.
Under the nasty conditions a two point lead was worth six and it looked like the home side would come good.
But in the final minutes, the Tigers dominated ball possession and after a number of back-to-back sets of six, Brisbane tiered in their defence and the Wests’ Mitch Brown scored in the corner off a clever cross-field kick by Robbie Farah with two minutes to go. Missing the kick, the Tigers came away with a two point victory and maintained their spot in the top three.
Despite the loss Brisbane impressed many with their determined performance without Lockyer, Thaiday and Folau, with fans sure they will be back in finals’ contention soon enough.
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