Fulltime score: Finals Week Two Wests Tigers 34 def. Brisbane Broncos 6
Both sides came out hitting hard in defence and early on it seemed as though we would be treated to a traditional Semi-Final type battle in the forwards.
The Broncos looked as though they would be first scorers, but Benji Marshall plucked an intercept out of nowhere and ran 80 metres to score, and give his team a 4 point lead after 15 minutes.
It appeared that the Marshall try would be the only points of the first half, but the Tigers shifted the ball wide and centre Paul Whatuira found space, chipping the ball over the top for winger Daniel Fitzhenry to ground the ball under the posts, giving the Tigers a 10-0 lead at the break.
The Tigers kept the foot on the accelerator after halftime, with Scott Prince running off Brett Hodgson who cut straight through the Broncos? defence to score under the posts and shoot out to a 16 point lead just 4 minutes into the second stanza.
Broncos captain Darren Lockyer put his side back into the contest, running into a gap and scoring to cut the deficit back to 10, with the Brett Seymour conversion attempt going straight over the black dot.
Tigers veteran Mark O?Neill scored a well deserved try, and with the Hodgson conversion a successful one, it was always going to be a long way back for the Broncos who trailed by 22 points to 6 with just 17 minutes remaining.
Consecutive tries to both Daniel Fitzhenry and man-of-the-match Hodgson secured the Tigers a preliminary final berth next weekend against the St George Illawarra Dragons, running out winners by 34 points to 6.
The fairytale rolls on for the Tigers who appear to have captured the imagination of league fans across the nation. A terrific display this afternoon, and they will now go on to meet the Dragons next Saturday night at Aussie Stadium, unless the NRL decides to move the game to Telstra Stadium in order to fit the many fans who will no doubt be queuing for tickets when they go on sale.
Questions will no doubt be asked of the Broncos, who were on top of the competition table throughout the majority of the home and away season and were the premiership favourites in the minds of most at that stage of the season. They have finished the season with 7 losses and will need to make changes to their system in order to address this on-going problem.
Tigers v Broncos match photos: Click here to see the photo gallery for this game
Scorers: WESTS TIGERS 34 Tries: Fitzhenry 2, Marshall, Prince, O'Neill, Hodgson Goals: Hodgson 5/6 BRISBANE BRONCOS 6 Tries: Lockyer Goals: Seymour 1/1
Venue: Aussie Stadium Crowd: 36,563 Referee: Tim Mander Half time: Tigers 10-0
Live commentary: A typical September day greets us in Sydney for today's second Semi-Final between the Wests Tigers and the Brisbane Broncos at Aussie Stadium. The winner of today's match will progress and meet the St George Illawarra Dragons next Saturday evening, while the loser will be finished for season 2005.
Changes: Tigers: Todd Payten comes onto the interchange bench at the expense of Bronson Harrison.
Broncos: Justin Hodges comes into the side replacing youngster Leon Bott.
Hodges moves into the centres with Brent Tate moving out onto the wing.
Berrick Barnes, Neville Costigan and Darren Mapp all drop off the 7-man interchange bench that was named earlier this week.
0 min: KICKOFF!, second elimination final underway at Aussie Stadium with a massive crowd in attendance
5 min: NEWS-Both sides working their way into the game, getting to the last tackle and putting in a long kick, we look set for a very tough and tight match today.
8 min: NO TRY-Darren Smith appeared to ground the ball on the goal line but some magnificent play from Tigers pivot Benji Marshall, knocking the ball from Smith's grasp, resulting in a 20 metre restart for the Tigers.
14 min: NEWS-Both sides have had opportunities in attack but the two teams look up for a defensive battle this afternoon. Still no score on the board.
15 min: TRY-Tigers Benji Marshall takes an intercept and runs 80 metres to score, the crowd are going crazy at Aussie Stadium. 12 point turnaround as the Broncos looked like scoring down the other end. Brett Hodgson misses a relatively easy shot at goal. Tigers 4-0
20 min: NEWS-The Broncos are creating more opportunities than the Tigers but the Tigers are proving that they are more than capable of winning games through their defence. Still 4-0 to the Tigers.
27 min: NEWS-Petero Civoniceva leaves the field and goes into the rooms. He may have an injury concern, still 4-0 in favour of the Tigers.
32 min: NEWS-Brisbane butcher another try, Brent Tate made a break and was pulled down by Brett Hodgson, only for Tate to put a kick in on the next play that went over the dead-ball line. 4-0 the Tigers lead.
36 min: NO TRY-Scott Prince knocks the ball over the dead-ball line before Shaun Berrigan is able to ground it, line drop-out Tigers.
37 min: NEWS-Lockyer lets the Tigers off the hook by grubbering the ball over the dead-ball line. Still 4-0 in favour of Wests.
40 min: TRY-Tigers Daniel Fitzhenry forces the ball in-goal after winning the race to a Paul Whatuira kick, the Broncos' right-side defence has been found out yet again. Conversion from under the posts is successful from Hodgson. Tigers 10-0
HALF TIME: Things don't look good for the Broncos, they have dominated possession and field position but have failed to take advantage of it on the scoreboard. The Tigers' defence has been outstanding but this game looks like it could still go either way. The Tigers lead 10-0 at the break.
Second half underway at Aussie Stadium
44 min: TRY-Tigers Scott Prince scores a length-of-the-field try after supporting a superb break from Brett Hodgson yet again, who has been clearly the best player on the field. Hodgson converts. Tigers 16-0
48 min: TRY-Broncos Darren Lockyer cuts through the Tigers defensive line and scores a much needed try, the Broncos get themselves back into the game. Conversion successful from Brett Seymour Tigers 16-6
55 min: NEWS-Still 16-6 in favour of the Tigers, with this game now getting very interesting.
59 min: NEWS-Karmichael Hunt throws a shocking pass that beats everyone and goes over the sideline. The Broncos are now beginning to run out of time and must execute their plays very shortly to have any chance of winning.
63 min: TRY-Tigers Mark O'Neill scores a try that might just send the Tigers into week 3 of the playoffs, Hodgson involved heavily yet again. Conversion attempt is successful from Brett Hodgson. Tigers 22-6
68 min: TRY-Tigers Daniel Fitzhenry scores a try in the corner which was orchestrated by Brett Hodgson, which sends the Tigers into the Preliminary final. Hodgson converts from the sideline. Tigers 28-6
78 min: TRY Tigers Brett Hodgson caps off a man-of-the-match performance, hitting a hole and scoring under the posts. Hodgson converts. Tigers 34-6
FULL TIME: The Wests Tigers continue their fairytale surge through the 2005 Telstra Premiership Finals series with a 34-6 victory over the Brisbane Broncos today at Aussie Stadium. The Tigers' youth and enthusiasm proved too much for the Broncos ageing forward pack. The Tigers now advance to play the Dragons next weekend, whilst the Broncos can ponder what went wrong after yet again going out in straight sets. ----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - B Hodgson (Tigers) 2 - D Fitzhenry (Tigers) 1 - J Skandalis (Tigers) -----------------------------------------Like