A disappointing night on the scoreboard was compounded by a night of carnage in the casualty ward for Wests Tigers with new halfback Tim Moltzen suffering a season-ending knee injury in a 20-10 loss to Brisbane at Campbelltown.
Already without a host of players including star playmaker Benji Marshall due to injury, the Tigers lost Chris Lawrence to a hamstring strain in the first half before Moltzen ruptured his ACL an hour into the contest.
Completing the horror run, centre Blake Ayshford was taken from the field with a suspected broken leg with six minutes to go, the Tigers forced to play out the game with just 12 players having already used all their interchanges.
The biggest loss though is Moltzen, the new No.7 who was writhing in pain as Broncos centre Justin Hodges did his best to comfort the 24-year-old and draw the attention of Tigers medical officials.
Moltzen cut a shattered figure as he made his way off the ground having undergone a reconstruction on the same knee three years ago.
Moltzen was the third man to wear the No.7 jumper for the Tigers in just seven games this season, coach Michael Potter fast running out of options after dumping youngster Jacob Miller.
Despite the injury woes and a dismal first-half display, the Tigers somehow found themselves in the contest until the 75th minute when Hodges dived over from dummy half to end the home side’s resistance.
It was a seemingly inconceivable prospect after the opening half-hour when the Broncos looked in cruise control in running up a 14-0 lead.
The Tigers’ new-look right-edge defence of Moltzen and Lawrence was being badly exposed as first Corey Norman and then Matt Gillett twice scythed through to score, Parker taking over goal-kicking duties after Scott Prince missed his first two attempts.
A try on the stroke of halftime put the Tigers back into the game when Robbie Farah worked a clever run-around to send Matt Utai over, and they were almost within touching distance only for Sauaso Sue to be denied for a double movement.
The Tigers did get to within four points when Shaun Spence touched down after Norman allowed a Farah kick to bounce in his own in-goal, the ball bouncing off the cross-bar and being fumbled by Norman for the Tigers to get back into the contest.
Asked about his options at halfback, Potter said:
“I’ll scratch around on Monday.
“Robbie (Farah) can play seven as well as nine.”
Of 18-year-old halfback sensation Luke Brooks, who has played just six games in the under 20s as well an appearance for the NSW under 20s side that beat Queensland last weekend, Potter seemed hesitant to promote him to the top grade.
“I’d have to talk to Todd (Tigers NYC coach Todd Payten) a bit more,” Potter said.
“I’m not sure if he’s ready for that jump yet but he’d probably grab it with open arms and do his best and probably do an okay job.
“I want to get him physically ready, otherwise he’s going to be a real target just with that step up.”
Broncos skipper Sam Thaiday said the two competition points were the biggest thing to take out of the game for his side after a lacklustre performance.
He admitted the Broncos would need to improve significantly for next week’s tussle with South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium.