The Broncos escaped with a 24-22 victory despite a controversial appeal in the final two minutes that kept the Warriors in the game.
Brisbane was the first to sit on the board on Sunday. Xavier Coates and Anthony Milford showed coach Kevin Walters what they have to offer when they combined to score the game’s opening two tries.
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The Warriors hit back when Reece Walsh paused in midfield before Marcelo Montoya ended up crossing in the left corner.
And it was the Warriors who scored the first points of the second half when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak put a little grubber for Peta Hiku to take him back, then plant him.
A few minutes later Josh Curran crashed. Reece Walsh pulled off the conversion and the Warriors took the lead.
The Broncos fought back with none other than Milford fielding his half-partner Albert Kelly, but the Warriors kept the pressure on with a try from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to tie the game.
The man of the moment, Milford, crossed over in the final 10 minutes for a well-deserved try to beat his Broncos in the lead.
The Warriors fired back in the final two minutes when Euan Aitken scored for a controversial try. It was up to Walsh to convert to tier scores, but he missed and the Broncos escaped with the win.
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MILFORD GOES FROM ZERO TO HEROES
It wasn’t too long ago that Anthony Milford and Xavier Coates were relegated to the reserve rank, but the two combined remarkably to score the Broncos’ first two tries on Sunday.
The pair returned to Kevin Walters’ 17th last week with Coates playing on the wing, while Milford took on a bench utility role.
A five-eighth suspension from Tyson Gamble this week meant Milford got his first half-time game since Round 12.
The 27-year-old seized the opportunity with both hands. He prepared Coates for the first try with a bomb and sent him a second with a harbor bridge pass.
Champion playmaker Cooper Cronk said that while Coates received the praise, it was Milford who deserved the praise.
“Coates gets his second goal, but it goes to Anthony Milford… It’s a great ball game from the five-eighth veteran,” he said after the second at four points.
“There is a bit of bounce in his step and excitement on Anthony Milford’s face here this afternoon,” Cronk added.
Whether it’s his halfway return or the fact that he’s locked in a new gig with the Rabbitohs next year, Broncos legend Corey Parker has noticed that Milford looks a lot lighter.
“There is a weight on Antony Milford’s shoulders, for sure. He’s got a smile on his face, he’s bouncing back, he’s energetic, he wants the ball in hand and had a great start to the game, ”he said.
Fox League commentator Warren Smith called Milford a “man of the moment” while Cronk said we were seeing a “vintage form” of the 190 player who looked like the chains had come loose in the second half. when he ran on the sidelines and put a chip shot.
“He’s been on fire … it’s the Milford we’ve come to know and love,” he said.
Milford for a third assist when he gave a perfectly weighted kick for Albert Kelly to cross. He then scored a try to take the lead with less than 10 minutes remaining.
“Broncos fans who watch Anthony Milford play like this have to scratch their heads and say ‘my God.’ It’s like the clock is back to 2015,” Smith said.
Don’t take anything away from Coates, either, who also had an eventful 2021 season that included the peak of a deal with the Storm and the weakness of being knocked out on the Broncos and Maroons sides.
Cronk – who has played 323 games for the Storm – believes his ex-club ended up victorious.
“Excellent transaction by the Melbourne Storm. They lose the best winger in the world (Josh Addo-Carr) and replace him with one with arguably the biggest winger, ”he said.
“Teach him the skills and Xavier Coates could be a dominant winger in our competition.”
WARRIORS GUN FALLS SHORT LIKE A CURTAIN FALLS IN SEASON
The Warriors’ final dream all but ended after a biting final, which was fitting given their unexpected late-season load for the top-eight.
No one expected the Warriors to be in the conversation, in fact, it’s possible they didn’t even think they would linger around the eight in the final weeks of the season.
Isn’t that why they let inspiring skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck leave the club earlier? And isn’t that why coach Nathan Brown turned down offers from rival clubs to borrow players because he thought he might as well use that time to develop his talents?
But, similar to the admirable attitude of last year, the Warriors regrouped and made the unpredictable.
After taking a beating from the Rabbitohs, the Warriors turned the tide and went on to string together three straight wins, all with different spine combinations.
They had to beat the Broncos to keep the streak – and their season – alive, but ultimately couldn’t get the job done.
Reece Walsh has been the shining light of their season. The young gun has established itself as a true superstar of the future.
Broncos fans have likely banged their heads against the wall over the club’s decision to let him join the Warriors.
But the 19-year-old couldn’t freeze the game when the pressure came.
With just three minutes to go, the Warriors were treated to a controversial try. Walsh had to insert the conversion to level scores and potentially send the game to Golden Point. He did not do it.
Thanks to the youngster though because he kept his chin up and attempted a two point placement in the dying seconds … but went to the left.
An unfortunate ending, but probably the right ending.
BATTLE OF THE BIG BOPPERS
It was arguably the battle for the two best accessories in the game and it didn’t disappoint.
“Haas and Fonua-Blake faced off in the middle third,” Cooper Cronk said.
Milford stole the show from the Broncos, but as usual, their first rower Payne Haas played his guts.
The 21-year-old ran 194 running yards, four tackles, a line break and 26 tackles with just one miss.
Fox League commentator Warren Smith was stunned by the striker’s “incredible engine”.
Haas met his match against Warriors hitman Addin Fonua-Blake, who punched the punch in the middle.
Fonua-Blake was equally impressive with 173 running meters, two tackles, two offloads and 36 tackles without any hiccups.
The battle of the two star props perfectly summed up the “exciting” contest between the two sides, as Cooper Cronk called it.
Bronco: 1. Tesi Niu 2. Corey Oates 3. Selwyn Cobbo 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Xavier Coates 6. Anthony Milford 7. Albert Kelly 8. Thomas Flegler 21. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. Jordan Riki 13. Kobe Hetherington 9. Danny Levi 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. TC Robati 18th male: 14. David Mead
Warriors: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Peta Hiku 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita 22. Chad Townsend 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 17. Jazz Tevaga 10. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 11. Josh Curran 12. Euan Aitken 13. Bayley Sironen 9. Wayde Egan 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Eliesa Katoa 21. Jack Murchie 18th man: 20. Jackson Frei
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