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In slippery and sometime very wet conditions in Auckland, the Broncos have finally come away with a win over the Vodafone Warriors 21-14, the first time at Ericsson Stadium since 2000.
The Broncos certainly did not have the game all their way as many times there were glimpses of the Warriors of old, their defence hard and tough. The loss of Jerry Seuseu early in the first half, in the very first tackle on him, was a major loss of fire power for the home side as was the suspected broken leg suffered by Stagg for the Broncos. The return of Paul Green to first grade football since midway through last year had a definite impact on the Broncos attack when he replaced the injured Stagg.
A halftime lead to the Warriors of just 8-6 showed how tough and even the contest was between the two sides.
The weather conditions not allowing the expansive game both teams like to play, the Broncos adapted the easiest and in the last ten minutes of the match, virtually smothered the Warriors of any possession as the home side looked to be coming back into the match with the score at 16-14.
Ericsson Stadium Referee: Tony Archer Video Referee: Phil Cooley Touch Judges: Paul Holland, Ben Cummins Scorers: WARRIORS 14 Tries: Villasanti, Meli Goals: Jones 3/3 BRONCOS 21 Tries: McGuire, Hunt, Berrigan 2 Goals: Lockyer 2/4, F/G: McGuire 1/1
By the clock: 0 min: Kick off in slippery conditions. Broncos to bring the ball up first
4th min: NEWS - The Warriors holding onto the ball well in greasy conditions. Hot on attack a wayward forward pass halts a certain try in the corner
6th min: NEWS - Hunt (Broncos) getting a vocal workover from the small Ericsson crowd is as safe as houses under a high bomb. Seuseu having treatment on the sideline after limping off
10th min: PENALTY GOAL - Jones (Warriors) Civoniceva called up for a penalty in the tackle on Beetham. Jones from out in front, 35 metres out gets the scoring underway in the match. Warriors 2-0
14th min: TRY - McGuire (Broncos) A mistake by the Warriors, the Broncos have their first chance on attack and nail it after some great build up, finished by Berrigan and Kelly to put McGuire in under the posts. Lockyer converts. Broncos 6-2
18th min: Seuseu (Warriors) welcomed into the game off the bench with a tackle deemed to be lifted above the horizontal by Webb and Stagg. A penalty to the Warriors
20th min: TRY - Villasanti (Warriors) The video ref used to determine the try for the Warriors after a high kick by Jones on the fifth tackle is attempted to be tapped back by Tate over the dead ball line, he misses and Villasanti is there to pick up the scraps. Jones adds the two points. Warriors 8-6
25th min: NEWS - The Broncos looking good on attack finding the gaps down the right hand side. The scrambling defence of the Warriors holding at this stage
27th min: NEWS - The crowd unhappy with the ref after Tate (Broncos) was driven back in a hard tackle by Meli and Toopi. The ball looks to be dropped, scooped up by Meli who looks to have scored. The ref calls play back saying the tackle was above the horizontal, the video ref not used. Warriors still lead 8-6
29th min: Stagg (Broncos) off the field with an ankle injury after falling wrong in a tackle by Brent Webb. Paul Green replacing him, his 1st game since Round 7 2003
35th min: NEWS - The Warriors having problems finishing their sets, Meli not having a good night with the slippery ball
36th min: NEWS - Hunt (Broncos) heading for the line after a solid build up by the Broncos. Hunt was ruled to have lost the ball over the line by the video ref, 20 metre restart for the Warriors
37th min: NEWS - Stagg (Broncos) off for x-rays, unfortunately a suspected broken bone in his lower leg
39th min: NEWS - A line dropout to the Broncos. 2nd tackle and Tallis is ruled to have knocked on 20 metres out from their line
HALFTIME: A solid performance by both the teams both on attack and defence. Halftime score 8-6 to the Warriors
HALFTIME STATS: Possession for the teams: Warriors 49% - Broncos 51% and completions: Warriors 65% - Broncos 67% meaning the game is as even as it could be. Warriors captain Beetham leading the way with 19 tackles for his side
Second half underway..
45th min: NEWS - A tentative start to the half by both the sides, the crowd getting into the match
48th min: NO TRY - Paleaasina (Warriors) storming for the line after a flat pass 10 metres out. The ball is punched out by McGuire in desperation defence and it goes in goal, scrum feed is given the to the Broncos. No change to the halftime score, 8-6 to the Warriors
52nd min: NEWS - Both side with scoring opportunities as the game opens up. The Broncos hard done by as ref Archers calls players in front of the kicker after a great chip through to the in goal
54th min: TRY - Hunt (Broncos) Following a penalty to bring the Broncos up 30 metres from their line, the Broncos spread the ball wide and quick. A chip in-field by Kelly right on the touchline, is gathered by Hunt to score. Lockyer from 10 metres in from the sideline, adds the 2 points. Broncos 12-8
60th min: NEWS - Back to back possession for the Broncos close to their line is shut down by some excellent scrambling defence by the home side, a knock on finishing the play for the Broncos as heavy rain starts to fall in Auckland
65th min: NEWS - Mistakes in slippery conditions by both sides as the shower has passed.
66th min: TRY - Berrigan (Broncos) Green puts a great chip through for his outside backs, 20 metres out from the line. A flying Berrigan manages to touch the ball down before he slides off the field. Lockyer misses his first conversion of the evening as the rain pelts down again. Broncos 16-8
69th min: TRY - Meli (Warriors) A mistake forced by Faumuina sets up the Warriors attack 30 metres out from their line in atrocious conditions. An offload by Webb who finds the gap, gets the ball to Meli out wide who comes around under the posts unopposed. Jones adds 2 points. Broncos 16-14
74th min: NEWS - The Broncos with all the attacking since the last try after yet another mistake by the Warriors. The defence once again the saving grace for the Warriors
76th min: TRY - Berrigan (Broncos) The Broncos with all the ball following yet another mistake by the Warriors, only needed a bit of patience to score. A great ball from Lockyer to Berrigan speeding through and the defence had no show of stopping him. Lockyer misses the conversion. Broncos 20-14
80th min: FIELD GOAL - McGuire (Broncos) The Warriors smothered of possession, and with no chasers whatsoever, McGuire calmly slots the field goal from right in front. Broncos 21-14
FULLTIME: 10 minutes of no ball for the Warriors to finish off the match was enough for the win to the Broncos by 21-14
FULLTIME STATS: The weight of possession heading the way of the Broncos, 54% to 46%, the completion rate the killer blow for the Warriors only 56% up against 73% for the Broncos in greasy conditions.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - S Berrigan (Broncos) 2 - P Civoniceva (Broncos) 1 - I Paleaasina (Warriors) -----------------------------------------