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2021 NRL Round 22, Broncos 20 Roosters 21 – Report

Shannon Meyer reviews a tight contest between the Broncos and Roosters at Suncorp Stadium won in the last minute after a Captain’s Challenge handed the Roosters a game winning penalty goal.

SCOREBOARD

Broncos 20

Tries: Payne Haas (7),Jordan Riki (19), Albert Kelly (58)

Goals: Tyson Gamble (8, 21) Selwyn Cobbo (59, 76 – pen)

Roosters 21

Tries: Isaac Liu (12), Dale Copley (30), James Tedesco (61)

Goals: Adam Keighran (14, 32, 62, 79 – pen)

Field Goal: Sam Walker (72)

Player of the Year Points

Embed from Getty Images

3 pts – James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters)
2 pts – Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos)
1 pt – Tyson Gamble (Brisbane Broncos)

MATCH REPORT

1st Half

Something seemed a little nostaglic on Friday night: Broncos – Suncorp Stadium – a crowd, and throw in the opposition (the Roosters) and it felt like a simpler time when the only danger of Corona was a giant headache after too many. Not much has changed for the Roosters from pre-COVID-19: they are still fighting for the top four, but the world has changed for the Broncos as they sit second last, which is an improvement.

The Roosters dominated the early passages and almost went in front in the first three minutes, but some recently acquired desperate and solid goal line defence from the Broncos forced a knock-on from James Tedesco over the line. He was already sporting a bloody lip after his first tackle of the game.

After being handed some bonus ball from a Victor Radley mistake, the Broncos’ Superman Payne Haas opened the scoring for the match. There wasn’t a great deal to do: handed the ball five metres out, he found Nat Butcher one-on-one and simply powered his way to the line and reached out to score. He had almost scored the set before too. The big man showing he was ready to lead from the front. As ever. The conversion made it 6-0 before the 10 minute mark.

It didn’t take long for the Roosters to even the ledger and it was a try very similar to the Broncos’ first. It was another prop Isaac Liu running off a short pass close to the line and breaking through an attempt at tackle by Albert Kelly. The Roosters were on the attack thanks to a spilled fifth tackle kick by Broncos’ winger Xavier Coates. The conversion made it 6-6.

Tom Flegler put on a big tackle a few sets later, which looked like very good contact only to find out after the Roosters try that it was put on report. It was one of three reportable tackles for the first half. Thankfully the crackdown has simmered with the NRL having bigger things to worry about.

On the back of a solid set up in the middle the Broncos retook the lead at around the 20 minute mark. Coates out-jumped Daniel Tupou on a last play kick from Tyson Gamble to the corner and his tap back landed in the arms of Jordan Riki who had to do plenty to score in the corner, breaking through two Roosters tackles on the way to the try line. The sideline conversion nailed, it was 12-6 to the home side.

The next two sets the Broncos followed the same game plan of high kick to Tupou’s wing, with Coates out-jumping him and batting the back back. It didn’t end up in a try either time, but Tupou was in for a very busy night.

James Tedesco lit up Suncorp Stadium soon after, carving his way through a packed Broncos right-side defence. He was pulled down within metres of the line by – of all players – Haas. A subsequent Broncos tackler was penalised for a rake on Tedesco, but was only penalised and not given an additional sin bin. Referee Ashley Klein explained he didn’t think it was on purpose. That view was debatable at best.

Tedesco was in the thick of it as the Roosters scored their second try from the set after the penalty. He provided a perfectly weighted grubber to the right corner, and Dale Copley chased best and got the ball down just in time to score against the side he played for earlier in the season.

Tedesco was involved once more just before half time with a beautiful cut out pass to Daniel Tupou, but the Roosters’ diving attempt at the tryline failed by a knee.

It was 12-12 at the break, and once again the Broncos were giving the more fancied Roosters a real battle.

HALF-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 12 Sydney Roosters 12

2nd Half

Both sides had early chances to score in the second half, after being gifted ball through errors, but they both scrambled well to cover them.

Fifteen minutes into the second half and it remained 12-12 as it was at the break, with errors from both sides slowing any progress in attack. The Broncos had done well without their main man Haas who returned to the field at this stage. Following him a few minutes later was the much maligned Anthony Milford, who was given one more chance to shine in Brisbane, and perhaps win this game for the Broncos.

It was neither Haas nor Milford, but the Broncos ignited the crowd a few minutes later when they retook the lead again. After their fifth tackle play had stalled, the ball found its way to prop Tom Flegler, who moved like a three-quarter slicing through the Roosters from 20 metres out with a step from a standing start, and eventually finding Kelly who powered onto the ball and slammed it down next to the post. The Broncos were in front again 18-12 with just over 20 minutes to play.

But the Broncos don’t have a Tedesco, and he was involved again very soon. Roosters prop Siosiua Taukeiaho brushed Danny Levi and other central forwards aside up the middle from the 40 metre mark and with 10 metres to go who else but Tedesco was in support to score under the posts. The conversion evened things up for a third time with 17 minutes to go.

There wasn’t much between the sides as the game wore on, although the Roosters did look the more likely to score that match-clinching try.

With seven minutes to go it was the Roosters who did break the deadlock, but it was just the one point as Sam Walker casually slotted a field goal from 20 metres in front. But Walker gave the ball to the Broncos the very next set with a poor pass. The Broncos had a great chance to steal the lead back.

That chance was converted, but in slightly controversial circumstances. On the last tackle Broncos halfback Kelly attempted a field goal from close range, and although the kick missed, a penalty in front was awarded as Radley was penalised for diving at the Broncos player’s legs in the process of trying to charge down the kick. It wasn’t intentional but judged to be dangerous and enough to place Radley on report. The successful kick saw the Broncos hit the from 20-19.

Brisbane gave the Roosters a golden opportunity to steal the game with three minutes to go by losing possession in the set from the kick-off, wasting a great take off the short kick-off by dropping the ball on the second tackle.

The Roosters did take the gift, but not after a lot of drama. It had looked like the Roosters had given the ball back to the Broncos after a knock-on from dummy half, but then the referee’s call was challenged. But not for the knock-on, but a potential high shot in the tackle before.

After a lengthy video session, the video referees confirmed that Sitili Tupouniua had been taken high, and despite the light contact it was still high and a penalty was awarded. With yet another beautiful kick Adam Keighran nailed the penalty 10 metres from the sideline to snatch the lead back with less than a minute to play.

A short kick off didn’t work for Brisbane and the Roosters ran down the clock for a hard-earned win over a gallant Broncos side.

The last five minutes provided much drama, and it was a great contest despite a few errors throughout. The Roosters will be happy for the win and the tough challenge offered by the Broncos leading into the finals. They climb back into the top four ahead of Parramatta’s clash on Saturday. They did it without two of the better forwards too.

For Brisbane there are real signs that it is all turning around for them, and they just need a little more quality like a Tedesco to get them over the line. Haas is a machine, but he’s not a game-winning playmaker that the Broncos could have had if not for poor recruiting (Nicho Hynes for 2022) and retention (Reece Walsh/Walker). But the signs that things will get better are there.

FULL-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 20 Sydney Roosters 21

Injuries

Xavier Willison (Broncos) – knee
Danny Levi (Broncos) – head knock
Tyson Gamble (Broncos) – hand

Match Review Committee

Tyson Gamble (Broncos) – Grade 1 Crusher Tackle – Early Plea 2 match ban, Guilty at Judiciary 3 match ban.
David Mead (Broncos) – Grade 1 High Tackle Careless – Early Plea $1,350 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $1,800 fine.
Victor Radley (Roosters) – Grade 2 Dangerous Contact Other – Early Plea 3 match ban, Guilty at Judiciary 4 match ban.

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