The Broncos survived a nail-biting final two minutes to beat the Warriors 26-22 on Saturday night and ensure they remain inside the NRL's top four.
With two minutes left on the clock the Warriors crossed for what should have been a game-tying try to Marcelo Montoya, only for it to be called back after review found Adam Pompey had held Deine Mariner back from making a tackle in the lead up, effectively ending any hope of a comeback.
But while luck may have been on their side at the death, that shouldn't take away from what was a good win for a Broncos side missing five frontline players.
With Reece Walsh, Selwyn Cobbo, Payne Haas, Thomas Flegler and Pat Carrigan all out ahead of Origin I, the return of Adam Reynolds from injury was always going to be important for the Broncos, and the veteran No.7 stood up big time in Napier.
Reynolds all class
His accurate boot was the difference in a game which saw both sides score four tries, with a perfect five from five giving Brisbane the edge on the scoreboard, while he made the break and provided the final pass for Ezra Mam's try on 53 minutes which broke the Warriors.
Also impressive was 20-year-old winger Mariner, who scored his first and second tries as an NRL player in what was his third game in first grade.
Despite giving up four tries, it was largely a victory built on defence for Kevin Walters' side, who denied the Warriors three certain tries in the first half with desperate goal-line efforts to hold players up or force errors.
Sailor saves it
After several near misses at both ends, it was Mariner who opened the scoring after he scooped up a loose ball and ran 80 metres for a memorable first NRL try.
After three blown chances earlier in the game, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored the first of his two tries on 36 minutes, only for Tom Ale to drop the ensuing restart which allowed the Broncos to score through Jordan Riki and take a 12-6 lead to the break.
A sharp run from Reynolds broke the Warriors' defensive line 13 minutes into the second half before he found Mam looming in support, and while the Warriors hit back a short time later, Brisbane replied again through Mariner.
The Warriors are back
Tries to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Montoya set up a thriller, before Pompey's brain explosion denied the Warriors a chance at a possible famous victory.
Match: Warriors v Broncos
Round 13 -
Venue: McLean Park, Napier
- The Warriors completed only 66 percent of their first-half sets, making nine errors, and finished the game with a 75 percent completion rate. The Broncos ended the game with an 80 percent completion rate.
- Jordan Riki was strong for Brisbane in the back row, playing the full 80 minutes, scoring a try and topping the tackle count with 42.
Riki grabs the lead
- Freddy Lussick left the field for a HIA which he failed six minutes into the second half, leaving Bayley Sironen to play dummy-half for most of the second half.
- Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad underwent a HIA on 50 minutes which he passed, allowing him to return for the final 15 minutes.
- Brisbane interchange forward Xavier Willison went on report for a dangerous tackle on the hour mark.
- It was Brisbane's first game in New Zealand since 2019.
Play of the Game
A wonderful way for New Zealand born and raised winger Deine Mariner to score his first NRL try. In just his third NRL game, the 20-year-old put in a strong showing which included a second four-pointer in the second half and 180 run metres.
Mariner streaks away
What They Said
"I thought our scramble defence, particularly in that first half, saved three or four tries, which really won us the game. We knew if they [the Warriors] got the flow of possession, they can score tries can't they? We are grateful for the win, could have gone either way." – Broncos coach Kevin Walters.
Broncos: Round 13
"[The no-try call two minutes from full-time] sums us up tonight I think. I'm not throwing it all on that moment, but we had a million of those moments tonight that we didn't own. We won almost every single stat physically... but the ones where you have got to make your tackles for line breaks and tries... our DNA has been all year that we defend those, and we didn't." – Warriors coach Andrew Webster.
Warriors: Round 13
The Warriors have back-to-back games in New Zealand for the first time in 2023, taking on the Dolphins next Saturday night in Auckland, with Mitch Barnett expected back from a neck injury and Wayde Egan a chance of returning from a calf complaint. The Broncos head to PointsBet to take on the Sharks, three days on from the opening Origin game in Adelaide and it remains to be seen which, if any, of their representatives will back up.