Broncos down Wests Tigers in Golden Point thriller
Wests Tigers have played out a thrilling contest against the Brisbane Broncos tonight at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, going down 9-7 in Golden Point.
It was another match of tremendous defensive resolve from Ivan Cleary's side, who held a 6-4 lead before a late penalty goal and trading of field goals saw the match head to an extra period.
In the seventh minute of action, Robbie Rochow was controversially penalised for offside, handing Jamayne Isaako a straightforward penalty goal and the Broncos a two-point win.
The result is the first time in history the Broncos have won a match without scoring a try, while Wests Tigers have conceded just 25 points in three games to start the 2018 season.
After conceding a record 18 penalties in last week’s win over the Melbourne Storm, Wests Tigers again found themselves on the back foot early with consecutive penalties allowing Jamayne Isaako to put the hosts in front with an early penalty goal.
There was more trouble for Wests Tigers soon after when Malakai Watene-Zelezniak was forced off the ground after copping a knee in the back during the play-the-ball.
The visitors were able to level the match in the 20th minute when Esan Marsters added a penalty goal, but the story of the first half continued to be injuries as Corey Thompson and Corey Oates both saw their nights cut short — forcing a raft of positional changes.
That would be all action of an otherwise sluggish first half, with both sides heading in to the sheds at Campbelltown Sports Stadium with the score locked at two points apiece.
After Thompson was again cruelly denied by the bounce of the ball, Brisbane were able to retake the lead five minutes in to the second half with another penalty goal to Isaako.
The visitors looked destined to extend their lead with the first try of the night when Kodi Nikorima broke free down the right, but his pass to Matt Gillett somehow missed the mark and the hosts survived. Jack Bird almost corrected the mistake the following tackle off a grubber from Darius Boyd, but the ball narrowly beat him in goal.
The vocal Campbelltown crowd would soon have something to cheer properly about, however, when Michael Chee Kam reacted quickest to a kick from Luke Brooks down the short side — scooping up the grubber to score despite good pressure from Isaako.
Esan Marsters was unable to convert from out wide, leaving the lead at 6-4.
As the tense but scrappy contest wore on, Josh Aloiai almost put the home side further in front when he charged on to a short ball from Pita Godinet but he was just held up.
The same defensive resolve was shown at the other end with 15 minutes to play when David Nofoaluma came up with a superb one-on-one tackle to deny Tom Opacic.
Isaako would show tremendous nerve to nail a penalty goal from the better part of 45m out with three minutes left in the match — levelling the score at six points all.
An error from Thompson in the ensuing set would hand Brisbane the chance to take the lead, with Isaako again showing his composure to nail a field goal from 25m out, before Wests Tigers sensationally recovered the short kickoff and levelled the match once more through a Luke Brooks field goal.
Chances were few and far between in Golden Point as both sides ensured they didn't give the other an opportunity, before referee Ashley Klein's remarkable penalty ensured a win for the Broncos.
Wests Tigers will look to bounce back when they take on the Parramatta Eels on Easter Monday at ANZ Stadium — a match that will again involve the special "Stay Kind" message from both teams.
Brisbane Broncos 9 (Isaako 4/4 goals; Isaako field goal) def. Wests Tigers 7 (Chee Kam tries; Marsters 1/2 goals, Brooks field goal) at Campbelltown Sports Stadium
Injuries: Corey Thompson (HIA, returned in game), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (back, returned in game), Corey Oates (hip, did not return), Benji Marshal (ankle, finished game)