Shannon Meyer reviews a thrilling Friday night encounter where the Roosters beat the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
Tries: Corey Oates 3 (18, 59, 78), Kotoni Staggs (34)
Goals: Adam Reynolds 2 (36, 60)
Tries: Joseph Manu 2 (53, 73), Sam Walker (47), Sitili Tupouniua (76)
Goals: Paul Momirovski (49), Sam Walker 3 (54, 74, 77)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
It was hard to believe both sides came into this game on the same amount of wins; the Broncos’ midweek revolving around a pair of white shoes, and the Roosters enjoying a second week in the Queensland sun after a big win over the Cowboys last weekend.
It was a clinical opening 10 minutes with 100% completion rate for both sides. This was broken after a Kotoni Staggs break that looked like a try was coming, but the inside ball was a good few metres forward. After a quiet start to the season Staggs looked up for it tonight. As did his team mates to be fair: the Broncos were the better side in the early stages of the match.
The Broncos made that advantage count when they opened the scoring in the 18th minute. After another some good lead-up work again by Staggs they went left with Adam Reynolds having a hand in the play and he found Tesi Niu who threw a magic cut-out pass to Corey Oates. The Broncos winger jinked right, bumped off James Tedesco, and reached out for his 101st Broncos try, which took him ahead of club legend Allan Langer in the all-time try scoring record. Reynolds missed the conversion, and looked like he injured his knee in the process.
The Roosters had their first real attacking chance of the half after doing a lot of defensive work around the 25th minute mark, but a clever grubber was repelled in some style by Selwyn Cobbo. Not long after the Broncos were on the Roosters line attacking with repeat sets, but gave away the momentum with a penalty.
The Broncos were a lucky bounce of the ball away from a second try with 10 minutes until half-time, Cobbo the unlucky potential try scorer. Kevin Naiqama provided some excitement through a break up the right the next set, but he was caught by a flying Herbie Farnworth, and the Roosters lost their chance with an error a few plays later.
The Roosters were punished in the next set, and it was first half star Staggs who did the damage. The Broncos went right, eventually finding Staggs who shoved off Paul Momirovski, pushed aside Sam Walker, and barrell-rolled forward over the tryline between two more Roosters defenders to slam the ball down and get the try he deserved on his performance in the first half. The conversion made it 10-0 with a few minutes to go.Embed from Getty Images
With a few seconds to go in the first half the Roosters should have scored, but Sitili Tupouniua spilled a grubber kick with the line open – he only had to catch the ball and fall over to score.
It was the Broncos’ best half of rugby league this season, and arguably one of their better ones under Kevin Walters. But the half-time lead was only 10-0, and perhaps that little glimpse on half-time of the Roosters was a warning that the same would be needed in the second half for a win.
HALF-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 10 Sydney Roosters 0Embed from Getty Images
The Broncos made very few errors in the first half, but they made an early one in the second half, handing the Roosters the ball on the 20-metre mark. It didn’t end up in Roosters points and Nat Butcher ended up leaving the field with a HIA after falling into Payne Haas’ knee as the Broncos prop was covering in defence.
After receiving a cheap penalty for a kick-chase infringement, the Roosters finally got their first score of the night when Sam Walker crashed over. Lead up play from Luke Keary, and a good run from Angus Crichton set up the five-eighth with 10 metres out, and he muscled past Staggs and through Niu for the Roosters’ first try. The successful conversion made it 10-6 with half-an-hour to go.
After blowing the next set after the try with a drop ball, the Roosters stole back the momentum through a Joseph Manu intercept. While the 40-metre run didn’t end in points straight away, the Roosters now had the momentum, ball, and territory. A few repeat sets later, and it was the man who started it (Manu) who crashed over from dummy half close to the line. This was after some great ad-lib football from the Roosters. Walker converted the easy chance, and despite their first half dominance, the Broncos were now trailing just 15 minutes into the second half.
The Broncos again handed the Roosters a great attacking opportunity through a basic error, this time on the first hit up by Oates. But another Roosters try was halted by a jolting Staggs tackle on Daniel Tupou sending him over the sideline.
Oates made up for his previous error with the next set for the Broncos, with the winger out-jumping Kevin Naiqama after a perfect Reynolds kick to score his second try of the night. It was of course set up by Staggs, who not only got the ball back with that tackle described above, but he set up the attacking play with another barnstorming 40-metre run down the right. Reynolds kicked the conversion for a 16-12 lead.
There was an interesting moment the next time the Roosters had the ball, as Ryan James went down after attempting to tackle Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. James looked displeased, and the replays showed why – the Roosters prop appeared to twist James’ knee while in attack. It didn’t escape The Bunker who advised the referee and put Waerea-Hargreaves on report, and the referee had to also clean up a scuffle or two. It didn’t appear to be more than Waerea-Hargreaves grabbing Ryan James’ leg, and James did the twisting himself, but a penalty to the Broncos it was.
Both sides had their chances to score next, but it was the away side who did so, again through Manu who scored again from dummy half. This time was on the fifth tackle and down the blind side in a risky play after the Roosters have tried a few times in a row down that side. Sam Walker had a sideline conversion to take the lead from the Broncos and he nailed it. With five minutes to go the Roosters led 18-16.
Walker added the salt two minutes later as his perfectly weighted grubber kick close to the line found a charging Tupouniua, but unlike the first half the Roosters second rower held onto the ball this time to score. Walker’s fourth conversion of the night gave a safe eight-point buffer with just over two minutes left.
But it wasn’t over yet. The Broncos got the ball back from a short kick mistake from the Roosters, and from the ensuing scrum Reynolds kicked straight away from the scrum and Oates got a lucky bounce to score his third try of the night. Adam Reynolds missed the relatively easy conversion, and it was 24-20 with 80 seconds to go. The Broncos had one set from the kick off to snatch the game back.
The Broncos threw the ball around and earned themselves a penalty with 10 seconds to spare, giving them virtually a sudden death shoot-out to win the game after the siren. In crazy scenes the Broncos got yet another post-siren penalty after the Roosters were offside after some pinball action from the ball. The Broncos went right to Staggs – quite rightly given his form – but his run wasn’t enough and the Broncos fell short.
Brisbane should be happy with the performance, if not the result, and they will win a good number of games with the same kind of application. It’s no coincidence that the Broncos’ best match featured Staggs’ best work for the season.
The Roosters had just a little too much class, taking full advantage of their small window of dominance in the second half, which the Broncos failed to do enough of in the first half.
FULL-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 20 Sydney Roosters 24
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Kotoni Staggs (Broncos), 2 pts – Joseph Manu (Roosters), 1 pt – Sam Walker (Roosters)
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