Roosters edge out Broncos in thriller to earn week off
An admirable Brisbane Broncos fightback proved in vain as Latrell Mitchell's stunning late try helped Sydney Roosters snatch a 24-22 victory in the first NRL qualifying final.
The Roosters charged into a 14-0 lead on Friday, but looked set to be condemned to defeat when Corey Oates' second score - following a shocking misjudgement from Blake Ferguson - and Jordan Kahu's subsequent conversion put the Broncos four points up with seven minutes remaining.
However, having spurned a golden try-scoring opportunity earlier in the second half, Mitchell then stormed over for a spectacular try and Michael Gordon added the extras to earn victory for the hosts.
Sydney will now enjoy a week off ahead of the preliminary finals, while Brisbane will get a second chance to keep their season alive when they face Manly Sea Eagles or Penrith Panthers next weekend.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett is likely to have been alarmed by his side's initial sloppiness in defence, which enabled Aidan Guerra and Boyd Cordner to cross before a Gordon goal stretched the Roosters' lead.
Brisbane gradually came back into the contest, though, James Roberts and Oates going over either side of a try from influential Roosters half-back Luke Keary.
When Ben Hunt grounded the ball from his own grubber kick, after Mitchell had lost the ball diving for the line, the Broncos trailed by just two points and they swiftly claimed the lead in dramatic fashion.
Ferguson made a desperate attempt to prevent Benji Marshall's attempted 40/20 from finding touch, but in doing so the full-back merely laid on a simple try for Oates, who was waiting to pounce on the loose ball.
It was Mitchell who rescued the Roosters, the youngster taking a Keary pass and brushing off a defender before producing a searing run to the line for a try Gordon converted.