Brisbane have come from 12-0 down to score a thrilling 28-22 NRL home win over the in-form Warriors.
Makeshift Brisbane centre Dale Copley was the unlikely second-half hero as the Broncos put a tumultuous week behind them with a thrilling 28-22 NRL win over the Warriors on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium.
The Broncos stopped the in-form New Zealand outfit’s three-game winning streak as Copley produced the most-influential match of his career.
The 22-year-old scored two crowd-pleasing tries in three minutes midway through the second half to turn a 22-18 deficit into a six-point lead before Brisbane finally closed out a tight match.
The win ends a three-match rut and moves the Broncos to equal sixth on the table with the Warriors on 22 points.
Down 12-0 after nine minutes, the home side belatedly muscled up to ensure no one was left to rue under-pressure coach Anthony Griffin’s decision to dump Jack Reed, Daniel Vidot and Corey Oates for a big night out.
Griffin was rewarded for his controversial call with the performances by their backline replacements.
Moved from the wing to left centre due to the axings, Copley was outstanding while late wing addition Lachlan Maranta was also influential with three superb high-ball takes under immense pressure near his line.
Copley’s double came after opposing centre Konrad Hurrell was replaced with concussion and back-rower Ben Henry, who scored two tries himself, was unable to contain him in defence.
While star recruit Ben Barba, shifted to five-eighth, continued to struggle, Ben Hunt continued the form that has had him topping the Dally M Medal count.
The match had followed the form line in a one-way opening for the visitors who successfully targeted Barba, playing in the front line at No.6, on the Broncos’ makeshift left side.
Simon Mannering scored his seventh try in seven games before Sam Tomkins, who overcame a hip-flexor problem to play, dived over from dummy-half after Henry swept past Barba.
But the match turned when Ben Hannant scored a soft try by powering past Suaia Matagi and Tomkins.
The Warriors’ attack, which had piled eight tries on against Parramatta last week, then lost all composure and precision, gifting Brisbane field position three times with errors in their own half.
In-form halfback Hunt stepped up and made them pay twice just before the break.
Hunt scythed through with a dummy and stepped past opposite number Shaun Johnson to score and then, three minutes later, went the blind on the sixth tackle to put winger Jordan Kahu over for a 16-12 lead.
Henry’s two tries after the break gave the lead back to the Warriors but Copley ensured a 37,082-strong Brisbane crowd went home happy.
Griffin was well pleased with the improved commitment of his troops defensively following their one-point loss to Penrith.
“We weren’t resilient last week,” he said. “The Warriors are a really good side and they threw a lot at us and we just kept showing up defensively.”
The coach admitted Copley was still coming to terms with playing left centre and Reed could well be back on Friday night against Melbourne.
“We probably missed Jack’s defence on that edge a little bit at times but Dale learned and it was a terrific attacking display by him in that second half,” said Griffin.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden admitted his team were out-enthused by the Broncos, who he felt were fired up by the events of the week.
“They needed to win tonight and they were clearly very desperate and sometimes things like that can drive a team, that siege mentality,” he said.
“The start of the game probably happened too easy for us and, when the opposition got some momentum, they just rolled through us and we just didn’t show enough resistance.”