The run to the finals is looking tougher than ever for the Brisbane Broncos after they suffered a nasty loss at the hands of the Knights at Energy Australia Stadium on Friday night in front of 16,670 spectators.
The Lockyer-less Broncos started well but just couldn’t hold on and were eventually beaten by a comprehensive 26 points by an in-form Newcastle outfit, putting their 19th straight finals appearance at risk.
Punters that bet on Brisbane to ‘Make the Top 8’ through Ladbrokes.com.au face a nervous next two weeks
The Knights still look to be a no-show for September as they are down in 11th spot on the ladder, but it is Brisbane fans who are anxiously awaiting the end of the season with the Broncos narrowly hanging onto their eighth spot on the ladder.
A powerhouse performance by the Knights Cooper Vuna who scored four tries on the Friday night, becoming just the fourth Knights player to do so, was enough to overcome a young Brisbane team.
The Broncos really needed the guidance and direction of their inspirational skipper who has missed back-to-back matches at this crucial time of year courtesy of a nasty rib injury, but is hoping to return when they play the Warriors next Friday night.
Newcastle maintained their record of leading at halftime for every one of their home game matches this season after they found themselves up 24 – 12 by the break.
The home side started the onslaught just eight minutes in when captain Kurt Gidley opened their account with a try he converted himself.
This came after a dubious decision not to award Jharal Yow Yeh a penalty try in the third minute as Gidley tackled him without the ball and stopped him from scoring.
The Broncos backed up just four minutes later, however, when hooker Andrew McCullough scored and Corey Parker converted to tie the score six all.
Then Brisbane looked to have the upper hand when Josh Hoffman got their second in the 21st minute after a 50m effort, giving them the 12 – 6 lead.
But six minutes later Adam MacDougall made it 12 a piece with a converted try, before the Knights flew in front running in two more unanswered tries before the break.
Firstk Cooper Vuna scored his first in the 31st minute then Akuila Uate got another four-pointer in the 36th and Gidley booted both through the posts to give them a tidy lead to take to the sheds.
Back in the second half it was obvious the Knights were running the game and that Brisbane weren’t going to hold on.
Before the Broncos could post any more points, Vuna scored a hat-trick with tries in the 44th, 52nd and 61st minutes and even though Gidley only kicked one from three, it was plenty enough to balloon the Knights lead out to 38 – 12.
Israel Folau managed one final and spectacular try for Brisbane in the 67th minute, Parker converting to give them a total of 18 points, but it was too little too late for a now desperate looking Sunshine State side.
Nailing the final nail in Brisbane’s coffin was Isaac De Gois who scored the Knights eighth try in the 74th minute so the final score was 44 – 18 in favour of Newcastle.
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