A Corey Parker penalty ten minutes into golden point extra-time earned Brisbane a hard-fought 14-12 win over Wigan at the DW Stadium in a thrilling World Club Series match.
The Broncos led 12-6 going into the final 90 seconds of normal time but Joe Burgess scored a spectacular try and Matty Smith held his nerve to convert to level the scores and take the game to golden point.
Stand in captain Joel Tomkins’ high shot on Parker allowed the loose forward the opportunity to slot over the winning penalty from just 11 metres out, which he duly did at the second attempt. Anthony Gelling charged down Parker’s first effort and was swiftly sin binned by referee Phil Bentham. The 32 year-old composed himself before slotting over the kick, which clinches the World Club Series for the NRL.
Andrew McCullough and Lachlan Maranta scored the tries for the Australian visitors who were never behind in the match. Liam Farrell and Burgess replied for the Warriors.
The Broncos scored the first try of the match with just seven minutes on the clock. Joe Burgess found himself underneath a high bomb and ran laterally a matter of metres from his own line but was tackled by Jordan Kahu beneath the posts. The ball squirmed free and McCullough was able to drop on it underneath the sticks to ensure Corey Parker had the easiest of conversions.
Gelling and Josh Charnley were both stopped just short of the Brisbane try line as Shaun Wane’s men looked to respond. Their best chance of a try came on 17 minutes when George Williams popped a kick above the Broncos defensive line, Burgess claimed the ball close to the try line but was excellently tackled and held up in goal by Justin Hodges.
After Brisbane knocked on Dan Sarginson kicked the ball ahead but was pulled back and thrown to the floor by Josh Maguire much to the disdain of the Perth-born centre. Nothing more than pushing and shoving ensued but the game was warming up nicely.
Wigan squared the game at 6-6 with 24 minutes gone after Smith found Williams and his grubber kick was collected by Farrell who touched down just to the left of the sticks, despite the attentions of Kahu. Bentham referred the decision up to the video referee and replays showed that Farrell just about had control whilst grounding the ball.
Their were errors aplenty from both sides which prevented either team from really getting on top and dominating the game. Tony Clubb epitomised the intensity of the match with two massive hits after coming on off the bench. The second of which dazed Clubb after appearing to clash heads with Adam Blair. He waved away the trainer initially but eventually left the field to be assessed by the club doctor for symptoms of concussion.
Clubb emerged for the second half but Wigan’s error count continued to rise early on. The pitch was cutting up badly due to recent bad weather in Lancashire, and the game was becoming a real battle down the middle, as both packs were really having to roll up their sleeves.
Alex Glenn made a break inside his own half and offloaded to Anthony Milford – who had much more of an impact in the second half – and the full-back turned stand-off made more valuable metres into Wigan territory. The kick on the last sailed over to Wigan’s left where it hit the ground, Sarginson pulled back Daniel Vidot, preventing the Samoan international from collecting possession and referee Bentham awarded Wayne Bennett’s men a penalty, ramping up the pressure on the Cherry and Whites’ defence.
The pressure told as Brisbane quickly fired the ball from right to left and Justin Hodges fed Maranta who crossed in the corner to put his side back in front. Parker missed the conversion and the score stood at 10-6 in favour of Brisbane.
Up until Maranta’s try the home support had been vociferous, but it became a little subdued in the subsequent ten minutes or so. This was largely down to the Broncos defence, as Wigan struggled to make any inroads into their opponents danger zone.
A high Ben Hunt kick was well claimed by Charnley, who looked to scamper away and get Wigan on the front foot. However, Mr. Bentham had adjudged that the superb John Bateman had deliberately blocked the onrushing Kahu and awarded the NRL side a penalty, which Parker goaled to extend the lead to six points with just 13 minutes left.
The Warriors were being forced to start their sets from deep inside their own half as the clock ticked down. Sarginson was stopped near the try line and Charnley bundled into touch by Milford and it seemed as though the Broncos might just dig in and hold out for the victory.
Then, in the final two minutes of the bruising contest, Wigan gained possession close to their own line. They had to gamble and spread the ball out to the left flank and Burgess was able to streak away from the would-be tacklers. George Williams came up on his inside to create a two on one against Broncos full-back Kahu. The Sydney-bound winger passed inside to Williams, who was almost caught by a Brisbane chaser. However, he gave the ball back to Burgess who touched down in the left corner and made the vast majority of the spectators inside the DW Stadium ecstatic. Smith held his nerve to add the extras and force golden point extra time.
Brisbane kicked off to Wigan to start golden point, but it was the Broncos who had the first shot at a drop goal. Hunt’s effort from 35 metres out was skewed wide, however, before Smith had a speculative effort from even further out for Wigan that fell short of the posts.
Next it was Milford who had an effort, though his was far too low and never really even looked threatening. Brisbane forced a goal line drop out from their next set – Milford’s kick in goal batted out by Charnley.
From the following possession Brisbane were close to the sticks when Joel Tomkins hit Parker around the back of the head in an attempt to assist Ryan Sutton in completing the tackle. The penalty was awarded and, depite Gelling’s best efforts, Parker kept his composure and kicked the golden points, giving Brisbane victory in a truly thrilling game of rugby league.