TIGERS 14 BRONCOS 18
Full charge ... Broncos Andrew McCullough drives for the line. Photo: Steve Christo
FORGET, for a moment, that Wests Tigers will have to do something no other team has ever done before if they are to recover to win the premiership. The Tigers won't win the comp, not because history is against them but because they are running out of players to take the field.
Another off night for the Tigers was exacerbated by injuries to Chris Heighington, who suffered a broken left hand, and prop Matt Groat, who was flattened in a controversial tackle by Brisbane's Ben Te'o.
Broncos captain Sam Thaiday. Photo: Steve Christo
So it was business as usual for the Tigers, who paid a heavy price for losing players and losing possession - ultimately losing the contest. While they tried hard - no doubt - their confidence is low, rather like their resources. For most of last night's match they were two men down, so they should be given credit for digging in and also for fighting back.
Their late rally was too little, too late, though. No team has won the premiership after a 1-5 start to the season; they will need to defy more than just history to bounce back.
''If the effort wasn't there, I'd be worried,'' Tigers captain Robbie Farah said. ''Things aren't going our way … when you're not winning games, things don't go your way, but we're working hard at training. We worked hard right to the 80th minute. Things will turn. A win's around the corner.''
It will need to be. Last night's defeat, their fifth in a row, was again costly beyond the scoreboard. Te'o, whose hit on Groat concussed the Tigers prop to the point of no return, was placed on report, yet the force of the shoulder charge, and the fact the Tigers were left without a player for 42 minutes will leave many asking whether the punishment fitted the crime. Te'o faces a suspension for the hit but that will be no consolation to the Tigers.
The hit was similar to the controversial shoulder charge by Bulldogs forward Frank Pritchard. The difference was that while Pritchard was flat-footed when he hit Panther David Simmons, Te'o was charging the man with the ball.
But the first half was costly in other ways. Fullback Tim Moltzen had a half to forget, allowing two bombs to bounce and fumbling another - having done the hard work by catching the high ball - in the tackle close to his posts.
Moltzen was displaying the classic symptoms of a player down in confidence. He has been most of the season, especially in his much-anticipated match-up with St George Illawarra.
His first error, from halfback Peter Wallace's kick, came after a communication breakdown with winger Beau Ryan. After he failed to take Corey Norman's bomb not long after, only Dale Copley's own dropsies prevented the Broncos from scoring.
The traditional Bronx cheer hardly helped; Moltzen managed to catch the next bomb but lost the ball in the tackle. He was copping such a serve from Tigers fans that it would not have surprised if they had been Dragons supporters dressed in black and orange. They weren't though; Tigers fans were turning on their own.
They had help. The Broncos were strong. Centre Justin Hodges was difficult to put down while Wallace's kicking game, like his all-round game, was superb, and Broncos coach Anthony Griffin was happy to push his case for a NSW Origin recall after last night's display.
Norman is excelling by the week at five-eighth. He finished off the display, setting up a try in the corner for Copley. The Tigers responded, but it was too late. Time will tell whether their eventual recovery will be too late for their season as well.
BRISBANE 18 (J Reed 2 D Copley tries C Parker 2 P Wallace goals) bt WESTS TIGERS 14 (B Ayshford L Fulton T Humble tries B Marshall goal) at Allianz Stadium. Referee: Steve Lyons, Ashley Klein. Crowd: 17,556.