A series of contentious calls have reigned supreme in a thrilling contest between Brisbane and Souths at ANZ Stadium tonight, with the Broncos prevailing 25-24.
Anthony Milford's 78th minute field goal will be the talking point over the weekend after replays suggested he had dropped the ball after a low pass from Andrew McCullough. The kick snuck inside the posts and it would be the final point of the game and the match winning moment for the Broncos. Despite the appeals of fans and players alike, the decision stood as final.
Milford's field goal wasn't the only controversial moment with Brisbane awarded a try to level proceedings up ten minutes from time. Milford was again in the thick of it after he appeared to be held up only for the ball to shoot out the back and be swooped up by Tautau Moga who scored. The bunker deemed the tackle hadn't been completed nor did the referees on the field and it stood as a try. Souths could feel quite hard done by as most of the 50/50 calls went against the home side. Unfortunately the controversy took away from what was a fantastic game of football. There was end to end action with hard hitting defence and silky passing featuring throughout.
Despite this, Souths still had a chance to win with the final play of the game as they attempted to run it down the blindside, but the play went bottle up and the Bunnies were thrown into touch, when there was an opportunity to go for the field goal and send the game into golden point.
The hosts had made the perfect start earlier on with hooker Damien Cook swarming on a dropped ball from David Mead to open the scoring in the sixth minute. It had been great lead up play towards the try as a towering Cody Walker bomb was spilled by the aforementioned Mead, before a quick offload found its way to Cook who streaked away under the posts. It continued Cook's stellar start to the 2017 season which has seen him unseat off season recruit Robbie Farah as Souths starting number nine.
The Rabbitohs continued to dominate for the opening 15 minutes before it allchanged for the home side. Some soft penalties in the middle of the field gave the Broncos some momentum and it paid it back with points on the back of talented winger Corey Oates.Oates first dove into the corner after some silky passing from Darius Boyd that had dragged the Souths defenders well out of position. Anthony Milford added the extras to tie proceedings up before Bryson Goodwin first missed with a penalty goal attempt before eventually giving Souths the lead back from the other side of the field. However it would be the last joy for the 2014 Premiers who wouldn't post another point in the first half.
Oates and Boyd combined less than five minutes later to get the Broncos its first lead of the game. It was a carbon copy of the first try with quick hands causing the Souths defence issues before Boyd's last pass sent Oates sliding over in the corner. Oates who had been on a lean stretch before tonight's game, bounce back in superb fashion with his 48th try in just 83 NRL games.
The pain continued minutes later as Korbin Simsscored one of the more bizarre tries of the 2017 NRL season. A rather tame grubber by Brisbane Five-Eighth Anthony Milford took a deflection off the leg of John Sutton. Despite being five metres offside from the kick. Sims was outside the ten metre zone included in the offside rule and was thus put back onside via the deflected kick. He picked up the ball with no defenders near him and planted it down. Milford's conversion and subsequent penalty goal gave the Broncos a 18-8 lead at the half time interval.
The Brisbane Broncos of the first half didn't appear in the second half as Souths came roaring back. Errors, ill-discipline and a slow defensive line gave the home side a foot hole back into the match.
The Rabbits had to be the first to score and did exactly that when Robert Jennings profited from a Bryson Goodwin to get it back into the game. Cody walker had gone to the air and Goodwin's bat back was set upon by Jennings who reduced the margin to six points. The flurry of points continued less than five minutes later with Souths young gun Angus Crichton continuing his good form with a powerful run and try to lock the score up. He hit the line at pace after a wonderful pass from Robbie Farah. So close to the line, he was almost unstoppable and proved why he is so highly rated at Redfern.
When Siosifa Talakai used his strength and determination to power over close to the line in the 60th minute, Souths had scored 16 unanswered points to lead 24-18 and leave the Broncos shell-shocked. It was some nice work from the 20-year-old who has had a indifferent start to the 2017 season.
However Brisbane wouldn't say die and leveled scores on the 70 minute mark, albeit controversially when Moga set upon a loose ball from Milford's run. Milford carried defenders with him before the ball was jolted loose. Under ten minutes later, Milford knocked home the winning field goal again in acrimonious circumstances as he appeared to knock the ball on. Brisbane held its nerve however to record a vital 25-24 win which leaves it in the top four for the time being after recording its fourth win of the season by eight points or less.
Next week Brisbane are back home to host Penrith on Thursday night at Suncorp, while South Sydney host Friday night's 6pm action at Allianz Stadium when Manly are the visiting side.