Wests Tigers’ NYC Holden Cup side has gone down 42-18 in their semi-final clash against the Brisbane Broncos on Friday night at Allianz Stadium.
Missing a host of key players — including Mitchell Moses and Manaia Cherrington, who were both late exclusions — Wests Tigers were overrun by a dominant second half from the Broncos to see their season come to a close.
After an error from Jordan Grant gave Brisbane strong field position, it was the Broncos who posted the first points of the match after just six minutes of play.
Following back-to-back sets, a sharp ball from dummy half found Jai Arrow close to the line, who barged over on last tackle to give the Broncos a 4-0 lead, with Duncan Paia’aua missing a relatively simple conversion from next to the posts.
A desperate chase from Eli Levido prevented the Broncos from posting more points in the 17th minute when Tom Opacic burst away down the sideline — sprinting back and pulling off a desperate tackle to force the ball loose.
However, the Broncos would soon extend their lead when Brett Greinke crashed through the line after 23 minutes to push their lead out to 8-0.
Ashley Taylor took over the kicking duties, but he too was unable to convert the try despite it being scored close to the posts and the score remained 8-0.
A darting run from Te Maire Martin finally got Wests Tigers back into the match after 30 minutes, with runners in motion allowing the wiry halfback to beat his man and crash over out wide for his seventh try of the season.
Levido nailed the sideline conversion to reduce the margin to 8-6.
The halfback would soon put Wests Tigers in the lead for the first time of the night when he released John Tohi out wide, with the winger linking back up with Salesi Funaki close to the line to score his second try in his past two games.
Levido had no trouble adding the extras from in front to push the lead to 12-8.
Andrew Kazzi pushed Wests Tigers even further in front after 37 minutes when he surged his way over next to the posts from dummy half — giving Levido a simple conversion to give Andrew Webster’s side a 18-8 lead at the main break.
Despite starting the stronger of the two teams out of the break — earning a repeat set and looking dangerous down the right — an error from Wests Tigers fullback Mason Farrell gifted the Broncos good field position, and they would soon make that count with a run from dummy half from Tom Opacic.
Jayden Nikorima came on to the field and took over the kicking duties, and finally landed one for the Broncos — reducing the score to 18-14 after 45 minutes.
With Kazzi down in back-play with a concussion injury (one that he would not return from on the night), Brisbane quickly made it back-to-back tries when Jayden Nikorima kicked over the top and drew an error at the back.
That allowed Kodi Nikorima to scoop up the ball and score under the posts, and allow his brother to convert the try and push Brisbane’s lead out to 20-18.
Nikorima continued to take the game away from Wests Tigers as his chip-and-chase in the 57th minute deceived Farrell and allowed the out-of-towners to push their lead back to eight as the clocked ticked over into the final quarter.
A cross-field kick from Taylor was followed by some sharp handling by Jack Tuttle to give Opacic his second try of the night in the 63rd minute, with a 50m effort finished off by Paul Byrnes in the 69th minute putting the result beyond all doubt for the Broncos as they pushed their lead out to 36-18.
Brisbane would cross for one final try in the 77th minute when Paia’aua went through the line before linking up with Byrnes to extend their lead to 42-18.
Final: Brisbane Broncos 42 def. Wests Tigers 18