Wests Tigers NYC side have gone down fighting 40-24 to a highly-rated Brisbane Broncos side in their Round 19 clash at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Forced to get through a mountain of defensive work in the opening half, Brett Kimmorley’s side battled gamely to pull within 10 points throughout the second half but were unable to complete the comeback, going down by 16 points in the end.
After picking up a penalty in just the second tackle of the game, Brisbane went on the attack early in the match and were soon rewarded with a try to Nikau Te Rupe off a kick from Logan Spaander after just four minutes of play at Suncorp Stadium.
Ash Taylor was unable to convert from out wide though, leaving the score at 4-0.
Brisbane would continue to launch a barrage of attacking raids on Wests Tigers line, but some strong goal-line defence would see them home side go away empty-handed.
A darting run and some sharp handling from Jacob Liddle saw Wests Tigers hit back and take the lead in the 18th minute, with the hooker linking back up on the inside to find Jeremy Marshall-King for a simple finish. Matthew Woods added the extras to give the visitors a surprise 6-4 lead after 20 minutes, having absorbed plenty of early pressure.
Wests Tigers continue to grow in confidence and went close to scoring moments later through Marion Seve after some great build-up work again from Liddle, before a cross-field kick from Te Maire Martin was taken mid-air by Te Rupe — turning defence into attack for the Broncos, as the winger raced 80m downfield before being pulled down.
However, the chance wasn’t lost for the home side, with Taylor diving over down the short side the following play to put his side back in front 8-6.
His unsuccessful conversion left the score as such after 28 minutes, but sustained pressure and repeat sets for the home side saw them cross for two final tries through Will Brimson and Te Rupe pushed their lead out to 18-6 as the half-time siren sounded.
After starting the second half again on the defensive front, Wests Tigers looked to have crossed for first points when Veiru Mapesone darted over in the 50th minute, but his effort was pulled back for a controversial obstruction call on the lead runner.
That gave the Broncos a crucial penalty, and they used that added field position to work the ball down field and extend their lead in 53rd minute through Te Rupe, with the winger planting down a grubber from Taylor just inside the dead-ball line.
Byrnes was unable to add the extras, however, leaving the scoreline at 22-6.
Wests Tigers hit back in the 58th minute with Esan Marsters running a great line to crash over next to the posts, before Drew followed up with one of his own to pull back the six-point margin for his side on the 64th minute of play, leading 28-12.
Matt Lodge produced a smart tip-on in the 68th minute to allow Junior Tatola to stroll over under the posts and cut the Broncos’ lead back to 28-18 — giving Kimmorley’s side a sniff of victory against the highly rated Broncos with just over 10 minutes to play.
However, that chance was all but lost when Drew finished off a sharp break in the middle of the field with nine minutes to go, before Byrnes went the good part of 60m to cross in the corner and give his side a 40-18 lead with just a minute left to play.
Wests Tigers would fight until the final whistle, and would be rewarded with a try to Ray Stone, who crossed for a four-pointer in his second NYC game to reduce the margin to 40-24 as the full-time siren sounded in front of a strong crowd at Suncorp Stadium.
Wests Tigers will look to keep their top eight hopes alive when they take on the Sydney Roosters next Friday, July 25 in their Round 20 clash at ANZ Stadium.
Brisbane Broncos 40 (Te Rupe 3, Drew 2, Taylor, Brimson, Byrnes tries; Taylor 2/4, Byrnes 2/4 goals) def. Wests Tigers 24 (Marshall-King, Marsters, Tatola, Stone tries; Woods 4/4 goals).