Sport Rugby League NRL Finals 2017: Broncos hold on in brutal finals clash

NRL Finals 2017: Broncos hold on in brutal finals clash

Brisbane Broncos Penrith Panthers
James Tamou of the Panthers takes on the defence during the clash with the Brisbane Broncos. Photo: Getty
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The Brisbane Broncos will meet Melbourne Storm for a place in the NRL grand final after they held on to beat Penrith 13-6 in a brutal finals match on Friday.

Bronco Corey Oates sent the Suncorp Stadium crowd wild in the seventh minute when he took a long pass, cut inside a tackle and raced more than 50m to the line to score.

But Oates’s night was over soon after when he collided with teammate Anthony Milford and was knocked out, leaving the field in a neck brace and on a stretcher.

Sam Thaiday (head knock) and Penrith’s Tyrone May (knee) were also victims of the physical encounter.

The win marked Brisbane’s seventh-straight finals win at Suncorp Stadium to book a grand-final qualifier with the Storm.

The Panthers season is over despite also bravely battling on with injury.

They lost five-eighth May (knee) on the stroke of halftime in a huge blow to a Penrith side without star skipper Matt Moylan for the finals.

Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary may have earned Johnathan Thurston comparisons before the match from Brisbane, but even he couldn’t spark the visitors with May sidelined.

Brisbane had already copped a major blow to their quest to end their longest title drought when fullback Darius Boyd pulled out of the sudden-death clash after opting to sit out a second week with a hamstring injury.

And the Broncos were reeling after Oates was floored in the sickening collision  with Milford.

The 38,623-strong crowd fell silent when Oates lay motionless for minutes after being accidentally taken high by Milford running onto a pass.

Oates had opened the scoring when he snapped up a Ben Hunt pass to run 55m and give Brisbane a 6-0 halftime lead.

David Mead was outstanding as Oates’ wing replacement while centre Tautau Moga monstered the Panthers in attack as Brisbane jumped to a 12-0 lead by the 47th minute when centre James Roberts scored.

Penrith ensured a nervous finish when impressive prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard marched up the middle to score in the 64th minute and cut the deficit to 12-6 to give the visitors a sniff.

But winger Jordan Kahu’s 70th minute field goal iced the result, leaving the Panthers to score twice in the final minutes if they were to win.

Wayne Bennett chipped away at his lopsided record against the man he replaced as Brisbane coach in 2014 – Penrith’s Anthony Griffin – with his third win in 12 games.

It was Brisbane’s first week-two finals win since 2011.

However, Brisbane second rower Matt Gillett may come under scrutiny for a 23rd minute attempted trip of May.

– with AAP

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