NRL | The 20th anniversary match
Brisbane spoiled the Vodafone Warriors' opening night in 1995 and did it again when they won today's 20th anniversary match 24-16 at Mount Smart Stadium.
The occasion 20 years ago served to ensure the 22-25 loss wasn't as disappointing as it might have been but today it was a different story.
Where there was little expectation on March 10, 1995, there was this time as the modern-day players sought to put together a performance which would give them the opportunity to snare a third win in four starts as well as capping the celebrations.
The opening stanza suggested they were in shape to do so, putting together solid sets in possession and crossing for what might have been the opening try, Shaun Johnson probing down a short right side and getting across.
Referee Matt Cecchin indicated a try but wanted to check a possible knock-on when the ball bobbled about before Bodene Thompson secured it and off loaded in contact. Any doubts proved well-founded, the video referees confirming a knock-on and there was no try.
Thereafter the first half took on an entirely different complexion as the Vodafone Warriors lapsed into making more errors than they would have expected. The momentum shift became pronounced as the Broncos enjoyed a huge possession advantage.
It was so one-sided they had 25 sets and completed 23 of them while the Vodafone Warriors managed only nine from 14. The Broncos also led the penalties 4-2 and made just three errors to the home side's 11 leading to the Vodafone Warriors being forced to make 215 tackles, the Broncos only 102.
The net result was three tries for Brisbane and a 16-0 lead. With the amount of ball it had it was reasonable to expect the lead might have been even more substantial.
Just how much the defensive workload would tell on the Vodafone Warriors was the issue.
They needed to be the first to score in the second spell and they were, lighting up in the 47th minute with a Jonathan Wright tap back from a Johnson bomb to the right yielding a try to Chad Townsend. Johnson converted and the home side had cut the margin to 6-16.
The mood darkened, though, when Ben Henry went down with what seemed to be another serious injury to his left knee. He was immediately taken from the field.
Despite the setback, the Vodafone Warriors stayed positive, continuing to work their way back into the battle and rewards followed.
Strikes in the 66th and 70th minutes from Matt Allwood and Solomone Kata had the game all locked up at 16-16, Johnson unable to convert Kata's try which would have had his side two in front.
Instead the Broncos went downfield, won a marker penalty and Corey Parker had his side 18-16 ahead.
Twice the Vodafone Warriors had a shot at stealing a go-ahead try but each time they faltered, the Broncos closing it out for their third straight win and a disappointing anniversary outcome for the home side.
Match details | Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Vodafone Warriors 16 (Chad Townsend, Matt Allwood, Solomone Kata tries; Shaun Johnson 2 conversions).
Brisbane Broncos 24 (Corey Oates, Lachlan Maranta, Jarrod Wallace, Andrew McCullough tries; Corey Parker 3 conversions, penalty).
Halftime: 16-10 Broncos.
Referees: Matt Cecchin and Grant Atkins.
Vodafone Warriors | Tuimoala Lolohea; Jonathan Wright, Matt Allwood, Solomone Kata, Manu Vatuvei; Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson; Jacob Lillyman, Thomas Leuluai, Ben Matulino; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman; Simon Mannering (c). Interchange: Nathan Friend, Ben Henry, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete.