In dramatic fashion, the Brisbane Broncos have defeated the Wests Tigers 9-7 at Campbelltown Stadium on Friday night.
The Tigers were looking to make it three wins from three to open the season, while the Broncos were looking to back up their round two win against the Cowboys. The game started with plenty of errors, as both sides struggled to maintain possession consistently. Brisbane kicked a penalty goal in the 5th minute, which would later be cancelled out by a Tiger penalty goal to see the scores level at half time. Corey Oates left the field midway through the first half with a leg injury, with Tom Opacic coming on to the wing on the left side for the remainder. The Tigers dominated field position in the first half with 61 percent compared to Brisbane’s 39 percent.
The second half was much of the same as both sides continued to give the ball away either through penalties or errors. Jack Bird came close to scoring his first try in a Brisbane jersey, but was denied by the bunker. Moments later, a nice kick stabbed through by Luke Brooks was retrieved by Michael Chee-Kam for the first and only try of the match in the 52nd minute. It was not until the 75th minute that the game began to develop in excitement, as another penalty goal for the Broncos and two field goals between both sides sent the game to golden point. Plenty of drama was expected, and a questionable penalty at the ruck against the Tigers saw Jamayne Isaako slot another penalty goal and claim a 9-7 win for the Broncos.
Isaako’s boot proves the difference
With no tries in the game, the kickers were given the duty to grab the two points for their respective side. Jamayne Isaako managed to outperform Esan Marsters in that respect, as he bagged four penalty goas and a field goal compared to Master’s 1/2 kicking rate, to seal a win for Brisbane. A penalty goal in golden point was the dagger that stopped the Tigers from starting the season 3-0, and Coach Bennett was pleased with Isaako rising up to the plate.
Limiting errors a struggle for both teams
Excitement is a word that far from describes this encounter, as both sides struggled to reduce their errors as well as their penalties. Discipline around the ruck has pinged teams so far in 2018, and that was on full display as the Tigers were penalised for offside at the ruck, leading to Brisbane kicking the winning goal. The first half was riddled with errors and incomplete sets, and even though a better second half saw both sides have completion rates above 71 percent, they copped 25 errors all up with the ball in hand.
Defence still the Tigers’ best weapon
The Tigers once again found their chance at a victory stem from great defence throughout the game. Ivan Cleary’s side remained a chain link along the field as they prevented the Broncos from scoring a try, and forced them into making questionable decision at the end of their sets. The Broncos asked plenty of questions in the second half, particularly on the right edge, but the Tigers were consistently able to withstand the pressure.
Bird’s debut delivers mixed results
To judge the first performance from a high profile signing off a very underwhelming game is not fair, but Jack Bird was neither great nor terrible in his first run out for the Broncos. His runs on the left side were good at times and defensively he was comfortable, but his biggest moment came when he was denied a try from the bunker in the 51st minute. Other than that he was quiet, so next week against the Titans will provide more evidence to Birds’ fitting in the side.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Tigers Coach Ivan Cleary said he was confused over the penalty that won the game for the Broncos, and adding that it was hard to lose a game that way. Cleary also said that his side was not good enough anyway.
Broncos Coach Wayne Bennett said he was never in doubt over the result of the game, and credited Isaako’s performance. Captain Darius Boyd also praised Isaako and his goal kicking ability.
Tries: Chee-Kam (52m)
Goals: Marsters 1/2
Field Goals: Brooks 1/1
Goals: Isaako 4/4
Field Goals: Isaako 1/2, Milford 0/1
Tigers: 1 Corey Thompson, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer, 14 Matt McIlwrick, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Chris Lawrence, 12 Robbie Rochow, 13 Matthew Eisenhuth Interchange 9 Pita Godinet, 15 Alex Twal, 16 Michael Chee-Kam, 17 Josh Aloiai
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd, 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 19 Jack Bird, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Tevita Pangai Junior, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Matt Gillett, 13 Josh McGuire Interchange 4 Tom Opacic, 14 Sam Thaiday, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Korbin Sims