‘How on earth’: NRL stunned by baffling call as Broncos score off alleged forward pass

‘How on earth’: NRL stunned by baffling call as Broncos score off alleged forward pass

Nothing seemed to go right for Brisbane Broncos on Thursday evening, but Kevin Walters’ men were perhaps lucky to be awarded their second try against the Sydney Roosters at the SCG.

The Broncos were trailing by 20 points in the 60th minute when five-eighth Ezra Mam floated a pass over the Roosters defensive line towards winger Corey Oates, who dived over for the try.

But replays suggested the pass was forward, with Mam releasing the ball behind the 10m line and Oates catching it approximately eight metres out.

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The referee believed the ball was passed backwards but floated forwards — which is legal. The Sydney crowd didn’t agree though, with a chorus of boos echoing around the stadium when replays were shown on the big screen.

“Man, that’s way forward,” Channel 9 commentator Mathew Thompson said. “Oh he’s going to let it go. He’s let it go!

“It can’t have been thrown back either.”

Melbourne Storm legend Cameron Smith continued: “Seriously? Unless it’s come off a Rooster’s hand … I think that ball has drifted forward about three metres.”

Former New South Wales representative Michael Ennis agreed on Fox League. “The pass from Ezra Mam looked like it was two metres forward out of his hands,” he said.

“It certainly went forward.”

Regardless, the Roosters have taken another important step towards securing a top eight berth after beating Brisbane 34-16.

Trent Robinson’s men weren’t at their ruthless best, but a fourth straight win has put their premiership rivals on notice.

The Roosters started the round at risk of dropping to ninth but will finish the weekend either seventh or eighth, keeping their closest pursuers at bay for at least another week.

They have a tough run home over the closing month – meeting North Queensland, Wests Tigers, Melbourne and South Sydney – but who would be foolish enough to declare the Chooks won’t reach the finals for a sixth straight season?

And any team featuring James Tedesco, Joey Manu, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Luke Keary, Victor Radley and Joseph Suaalii will be a threat come September.

“We feel like we’ve worked hard enough this year and tried different things (and) it’s time to play better,” Robinson said.

“The last month has been good and we’re improving but we’ve got to keep going.”

Skipper Tedesco added: “We’re still chasing that 80-minute performance but we’re getting better and better.”

The Roosters led this must-win game 18-0 after as many minutes, pouring through the Broncos’ ineffectual defence and eating up the metres with ease.

It took the hosts just five minutes to open the Broncos up, a lovely bat-on pass from Tedesco handing Paul Momirovski an open passage to the line.

Sam Walker engineered the next try three minutes later with a clever chip kick into the in-goal for Nat Butcher to reach out and ground the ball with his fingertips.

When Angus Crichton pushed through some Brisbane’s flimsy right-edge defence to reach out and score, the Roosters were headed for an 18-0 lead and complete control of a one-sided contest.

Then they took the foot from the throat, inviting Brisbane back into the game.

The Broncos scored through Corey Oates to narrow the gap to 14 as the Roosters’ completion rate went through the floor.

Robinson told the Tricolours to park the fancy stuff in the second half – and they did – but they still came up with three tries to snuff out any hope of a Brisbane revival.

Keary was superb, putting the finishing touches on a standout performance with a brilliant individual try 12 minutes from the end.

We were expecting a strong response from the Broncos following their shock loss to Wests Tigers, but they fired few decent shots in another worrying performance.

Their attack was pedestrian and clunky for most of the night and there wasn’t much in the way of whack in defence.

The visitors were chasing the game from the outset and did well to avoid a blowout, although they never really looked like mounting any sort of concerted comeback.

“At 18-0 we got a bit of momentum back and (then) a couple of things didn’t go to plan,” Brisbane skipper Adam Reynolds said.

“It’s obviously disappointing, but it’s a learning curve. We’re still a young team that’s figuring it out.”

Brisbane could finish the round as low as seventh if Parramatta and Souths win their respective matches.

With Adam Lucius, NCA NewsWire

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