Wests Tigers 14 Brisbane 16
Broncos winger Corey Oates diver over to score against Wests. Photo: Getty Images
The baby Broncos gatecrashed the biggest party at Campbelltown in three years after a controversial penalty goal to Ben Hunt gave the visitors a two point victory on Saturday Night.
While the Tigers faithful, all 16,511 of them, took a giant step towards clearing the murky future of Campbelltown Stadium, it was little consolation as the Broncos prevailed in a nail-biter.
Brisbane's Alex Glenn tries to break clear of the Tigers' defence. Photo: Getty Images
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Richards 2/2 (100%)||Conversions||2||Conversions||2||Players||Hunt 2/2 (100%)|
|Players||Richards 1/1 (100%)||Penalty goals||1||Penalty goals||2||Players||Hunt 2/2 (100%)|
|Players||Field goals||0||Field goals||0||Players|
A decision to penalise Pat Richards for taking out Maranta off the ball was a dubious call, but it provided Hunt with the opportunity to break the deadlock with a penalty goal 10 metres in from touch.
As the Blues prepare for another shot at Origin redemption, Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks provided another glimpse of the future of the Blues, scoring a try and setting up another with his kicking game.
However the Tigers lost their way when the halfback was forced off in the 70th minute for a concussion test after he was collected by an accidental knee from a Brisbane defender.
It was the largest crowd at Campbelltown in three years, when 19,252 piled in for a clash against the Bulldogs in 2011.
After the dismal crowd of 6456 against the Cowboys in round five, the future of Campbelltown as a home ground for the Tigers was put under the spotlight. Chief executive Grant Mayer didn't hide his disappointment over the result but was delighted with the response to the challenge from the Campbelltown faithful.
"In many regards it was a gamble from the club and myself to come out and be so vocal regarding the last crowd but the club and the players and everyone were genuinely disappointed by the last attendance," Mayer said.
"Today the Wests Tigers faithful have come out and shown their true love and support for the game. Campbelltown Stadium is unbelievable when we've got 16,500 people in it. We're over the moon. The fans have come out and they've spoken. It shows to me there's a strong future here. The game is well and truly alive and we'll continue to try and grow our presence in the area. I've said it for a number of months now, we've got to do more than we have been doing in the community. In regards to the future of football games, that will be a decision made on a game by game basis, but we've committed to the next three seasons beyond this at least."
It was a flat pass from Hunt to Corey Oates in the sixth minute that paved the way for the first points of the game, with Oates bursting through a hole to give his side a 6-0 lead. The Tigers found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-1 first half penalty count and completed 13 of 19 sets, limiting their opportunity to peg back the early deficit.
A Brooks grubber ricocheted off Ben Hunt, Ben Barba and off his own legs twice before the halfback dived on the ball just before the dead-ball line.
A mistake from the ensuing set from the Tigers allowed the Broncos to take a gift two points from a penalty that followed, but a Pat Richards kick-off enabled the Tigers to trap Barba inside his own in-goal area.
Midway through the second half another Brooks grubber led to points, with Bodene Thompson pouncing on the deft touch to give the Tigers a 12-8 lead. That lead was shortlived, with Oates grabbing his second from a Lachlan Maranta tap back off a Hunt cross-field kick, giving the Broncos a two-point buffer with 16 minutes remaining.
A 43-metre penalty goal from Richards squared the ledger heading into the final 13 minutes of the game, but the Tigers were dealt a major setback when Brooks was forced to come from the field in the 70th minute for a concussion test.