Broncos topple fast-finishing Warriors in Napier

Jamie Wall |

An off-field decision has thwarted a Warriors fightback in the dying seconds as an understrength Brisbane kept their NRL season on track with a gripping 26-22 win in Napier.

Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya’s effort in the corner on fulltime was denied by video officials because of an obstruction by Adam Pompey.

However, Warriors coach Andrew Webster had no complaints and rued the amount of errors his side made.

“I’m not thrown at all on that moment,” he said.

“We won almost every single stat … but the ones where you’ve got to make your tackles cost us. 

“An error that led to a 100-metre try, drop off the kick off. The last play wasn’t the biggest moment but it was one of many.”

The no-try ruling left Brisbane playmaker Adam Reynolds’ brilliance to set up an Ezra Mam try in the second half as the crucial moment in a game that saw the Warriors dominate for long periods. 

But home side let the Broncos feast on a host of first-half mistakes and establish a lead that was too big to pull back.

The depleted Broncos came into the game missing a host of stars including former Warrior Reece Walsh, winger Selwyn Cobbo and hard-running forwards Patrick Carrigan and Payne Haas.

Second generation Bronco Tristan Sailor lined up at fullback in Walsh’s place and he was targeted early and often by Shaun Johnson’s kicking game. 

It was galling for the sell-out crowd to not only see the Warriors squander chances in the first 20 minutes but also watch Deine Mariner pick up a fumble by Montoya to scoot 80 metres to open the scoring.

The Warriors hit back when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak dived over in the corner, which Johnson converted from wide out, but a massive lapse in concentration from Tom Ale when he fumbled the resulting kick-off put them under pressure as the clock ticked down to halftime.

It only took two tackles for Jordan Riki to barge over and the Broncos took a 12-6 lead at the break.

Broncos coach Kevin Walters praised his side’s scramble defence in the first half.

“It saved three or four tries,” he said.

“We knew if they got that flow of possession, they’d score tries and that showed in the last five minutes of the game. We’re grateful for the win.”

Mam’s try that came off a stunning break by the veteran Reynolds shot the lead out to 18-6 and allowed the Broncos to tackle their way to victory.

But Watene-Zelezniak scored again for the Warriors after a nice bit of interplay between Marata Niukore and Johnson with 18 minutes to go. 

However, a second try to the impressive Mariner after 71 minutes made it look like a comfortable margin of victory for the Broncos.

The Warriors then rallied with Charnze Niccol-Klokstad and Marcelo Montoya scoring within three minutes of each other to make it 26-22. 

Reynolds said the ruling on Montoya’s disallowed try “could have gone either way”.

“Obviously in the moment you play to the whistle and hopefully you get it and we were lucky enough tonight to get it.”