Brisbane lose fifth NRL game in a row
Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk’s right boot put Brisbane in the NRL finals danger zone with a match-winning field goal at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
For the second week running the Broncos blew a good early lead of 12-0, only this time the margin was a single point with Cronk’s 74th minute field goal snatching a 19-18 victory.
Brisbane led 12-6 at halftime after tries to centre Justin Hodges (sixth minute) and Ben Te’o in the 15th minute, both converted by halfback Peter Wallace.
But, just as they did against the Bulldogs the previous weekend, they let Melbourne grab a crucial try just before halftime to winger Sisa Waqa who appeared to lose control of the ball before grounding it with his torso.
Video referee Paul Simpkins had a number of looks from different angles before flashing the green light.
Cronk’s boot also led to Melbourne’s first try after halftime when his grubber hit the heavily padded right hand post.
The Storm halfback swooped through to grab the rebound for the equaliser.
Melbourne hit the lead in the 50th minute with Waqa the beneficiary of yet another perfectly placed Cronk kick which bounced favourably for the Storm winger.
Brisbane forward Te’o set the scene for a grandstand finish, crashing over off a deft Ben Hunt pass in the 71st minute for a Wallace conversion to lock the game up 18-18.
Cronk, who kicked a late field goal to win the State of Origin series last month, snapped the match-winner from 25 metres out.
The Broncos’ fifth loss in a row puts them in danger of missing the finals with 26 points and games to come against Manly and Penrith.
Storm forward Bryan Norrie could be in trouble after being placed on report for leading with his elbow.
Brisbane captain Sam Thaiday came reeling out of a tackle on Norrie in the 69th minute, angering the crowd of 41,000.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said the gritty performance to come from 12-0 down against a Brisbane side fighting for survival reminded him a lot of past Storm sides.
“I thought we defended tremendously well in the first half, I don’t think they (Brisbane) made a mistake,” said Bellamy.
“The way the players hung in and kept fighting reminded me of Storm teams of the past.”
Storm skipper Cameron Smith, exhausted after his 43-tackle effort, said the game had the intensity of a semi-final.
“It reminded me a lot of 2008 when we won a semi-final up here in the last minute (when Greg Inglis scored off a dropped ball).
“They threw everything at us. A team hasn’t thrown that much at us all year.”
Smith said when Te’o scored to level at 18-18, Cronk had said to him “just get me to half way and I’m going to have a shot”.
The Broncos were disappointed to blow a good lead for the second week in a row but coach Anthony Griffin and skipper Thaiday were both happy with their effort.
“It’s frustrating, but we’ll get there,” said Griffin.
Thaiday said his teammates were “playing their backsides off”.
“If we keep playing like that, we’ll end up where we want to be,” he said.© AAP 2013
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