With both teams season on the line, the crowd at Suncorp witnessed an exciting nailbiter which lead to the first draw in the NRL since 2016.
The Bronco’s put themselves in excellent field position when Ken Maumalo misjudged a kick and getting tackled in-goal. Moments later Payne Haas charged through multiple defenders after a lovely inside ball from Jake Turpin to score the first try of the match, Kontoni Staggs converted it to give the Broncos a 6-0 lead.
The Warriors responded well when Kodi Nikorima nailed a 40/20, but the Broncos breathed a sigh of relief when Isaiah Papali’i dropped the ball on the first tackle from the scrum. This didn’t deter the New Zealand side as a few sets later Adam Blair broke the line, running 20 metres untouched scoring the Warriors first points for the night, Issac Luke missed conversion meant the Warriors trailed 6-4.
This started a stage of dominance for the Warriors as they charged down the field at will but kept insisting on running on the last tackle, but were their own worst enemies as knock on’s and misguided passes meant they could not convert these opportunities into points. They finally struck gold at the 20-minute mark, running on the last once again with Blake Green linking up with Luke who slid in under the posts, converting his own try and giving the Warriors a 10-6 lead.
The Warriors were at it again moments later but continued to struggle with their last tackle options. The Broncos were given limited chances with the ball in hand and were fatigued from all the defending they had done as errors started to creep into their game. The Warriors pushed their lead out further after capitalising on a Broncos error as the Warriors shuffled the ball quickly out wide to David Fusitu’a scoring one of his trademark diving tries, Luke converted it, taking a 16-6 lead into the break.
The Warriors started the second half much like the first half, running at will with giant winger Ken Maumalo running 80 meters up the sideline but the away side continued to struggle with their last tackle options allowing the Broncos to attempt to regain some momentum. With some good field position, Brisbane were able to get themselves back on the scoreboard when Darius Boyd pounced on an Issac Luke fumble in the in-goal area, Staggs conversion brought the reduced the Warriors lead to 16-12.
With the season on the line, you could see the desperation in both sides performances as they traded sets with neither side being able to get the upper hand. Penalties, knock-ons and wayward passes plagued both sides for the next 20 minutes.
It was the Broncos that finally snapped the scoring drought when David Fiftita scoring a magnificent solo try evading four defenders on his way to the line, his try levelled the scores 16 all, but Staggs conversion gave Brisbane an 18-16 lead with 14 minutes remaining.
The Broncos defensive continued to be tested, and it looked like the Warriors had scored the match winner when Peta Hiku crossed the chalk only for it to be ruled no try due to an Isaiah Papali’i knock on. Luke levelled the score 18 all moments later when the Broncos were penalised for a strip near in their red zone. The siren sounded with both teams unable to be separated, which meant they were heading to golden point.
The extra time was a repeat of the last quarter of the match, with both sides able to charge up the field but unable to finish their sets, with both teams missing three field goal attempts each, leading to the first draw since 2016.
Last tackle options need work
The Warriors had plenty of chances to put this game away but looked lost once they reached the last tackle. They found some fortune when running on the last but did it too often, adding some grubber kicks into their arsenal may have turned this draw into a victory.
Forward pack impress
The Broncos pack may be young, but it is overflowing with talent. Pangai Junior, Haas and Fifita are the future of this club and have a combination of size and pace that all rival clubs envy. Brisbane fans can look forward to many years of success off the backs of these young superstars.
Second half collapse
Being up 16-6 at halftime, the Warriors should have had this match in the bag, but unfortunately for their fans, they let their foot off the gas once again and allowed their opposition back into the game with unforced errors and silly penalties. The Warriors looked to be more focused on trying to hold onto their lead instead of trying to add to it in the second, perhaps a sign of the low confidence they currently have?
Does a draw end the season?
With both sides needing all the points they can get does this draw effectively rule their playoff aspirations mute? It’s hard to say; the Warriors sit 11th and the Broncos at 12th now three points outside of the eight.
The Warriors road home is tough, with matches against the Sharks, Roosters and Raiders remaining where the Broncos have clashes against the Storm and Rabbitohs. The odds looked stacked against both sides, but with the table as close as ever they may still have time for a late charge.
Brisbane Broncos 18
Tries: Payne Haas, Darius Boyd, David Fifita
Goals: Kotoni Staggs 3/3
New Zealand Warriors 18
Tries: Adam Blair, Issac Luke, David Fusitu’a
Goals: Issac Luke 3/4
Broncos: 1. Anthony Milford, 21. Jamayne Isaako, 3. Kotoni Staggs, 4. Herbie Farnworth, 5. Xavier Coates, 6. Darius Boyd, 7. Jake Turpin, 8. Matthew Lodge, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Payne Haas, 11. Alex Glenn, 12. Tevita Pangai Junior, 13. Thomas Flegler, 14. James Segeyaro, 15. Joe Ofahengaue, 16. David Fifita, 17. Patrick Carrigan
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. David Fusitu’a, 3. Peta Hiku, 4. Gerard Beale, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Kodi Nikorima, 7. Blake Green, 8. Agnatius Paasi, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Leeson Ah Mau, 11. Adam Blair, 12. Isaiah Papali’i, 13. Jazz Tevaga, 14. Lachlan Burr, 15. Sam Lisone, 16. Bunty Afoa, 17. Chanel Harris-Tavita