Crikey Sports introduces Pat Byrne, project manager and sports fan who, in conjunction with Crikey Sports, will be publishing a weekly column where he thinks outside the square in bringing you the game of the week as he sees it … in a box…

Pat Byrne, blogger and “Game-in-a-box” creator writes:

This was going to be an interesting game. The Broncos were coming off two fairly hard fought wins in the last two rounds (versus Knights 17-6 at home two weeks ago and versus the Roosters 6-24 away last week). The Tigers were coming off a win and a loss (a big win over the Rabbitohs 30-6 at home and a close loss against the Titans 20-14 last week).

The Tigers are struggling a bit overall and quite inconsistent whilst the Broncos are a bit of a surprise package after what should have been a pretty big disruption after sacking their coach, Ivan Henjak just before the season started. They both had a good reason to really hook in and gain a win.

It was all a bit unexciting to start with. Probably played ten to twenty metres either side of the half-way line. The tempo line illustrates this where it didn’t get much beyond zero either side of the line.  Then the Broncos scored their first of three tries in the 19th minute on the back of a bit of possession. 30 metres out from the Tigers line and Lockyer put up a BIG bomb down the right side. Yow Yeh leapt above the defenders just before the Tigers line and scored.

The Broncos then held the ball for a long period and in that time scored two more wonderful tries one from Glenn and then the third by Thaiday.  The latter after a huge run by Yow Yeh who broke a couple of tackles and by sheer determination moved the ball up field.  Thaiday’s try came through some poor tackling by the Tigers. The Broncos were up 18 to nil before the 30 minute mark.

Then, probably against the run of the game, but the Tigers are very dangerous when they are running fast in and around the ball.  Close to the Broncos line, the Tigers not only run fast but run really good angles.  Off a great inside pass from Lui, and Moltzen goes over near the posts.

That 12 point difference last long though as the Broncos kick the ball into the left corner. It has three chasers, and the Tigers’ winger Ryan picks it up, gets back over his line but he gets a heavy tackle. Consequently he drops the pill and Wallace, the Broncos halfback grabs it and goes over. They are up 18 points again.

Then, on the last tackle just before half time and Lockyer pops over the field goal.  He is starting to put his imprint on the game and he takes the Broncos into half time with the Tigers having to score more than three times to get ahead.  And that reflected the domination percentage. The Broncos dominated beyond the 20% mark for the first half which meant to me, they were going to win unless the Tigers did a far far better job in the second half.

And … that is how they started the second half.  Tim Sheens must have had a strong word to them because within 15 minutes they had brought it back to 18 to 25 on the back of some good solid possession.

The first one was after the send tackle after a penalty inside the Broncos line. Lui took it from dummy half and seemed to squeeze his arm through the tacklers and placed the ball neatly under the posts. The second try, on the back of two penalties inside the Broncos 20 metres, the Tigers throw the ball around to have it finally come left and Moltzen find himself in clear and strolls over. The Tigers are back into the game and start to dominate a little.

But in the 68th minute came the turning point. The Broncos got a scrum inside the Tigers 10 metres. They went down the right on the short side from the scrum. For some reason the Tigers let Lockyer run and he just slid between two defenders and went over. It was a BIG try, as now they were 13 points ahead of the Tigers who had to score at least three times with less than 15 minutes to go before the final siren. This was the turning point for me. The Tigers were starting to get some dominance until this try. After it, they looked like they completely ran out of puff and the Broncos rode all over of them again.

The second half, the Tigers won 12 to 6 although the Broncos slightly dominated (4.50%).  It is interesting to see how a team deals with being dominated in the first and being behind on the scoreboard.  Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. A team can be dominated but not be far behind on the score board. But a 20% domination nearly always creates a huge challenge for the team being dominated.  But if any team could meet that challenge, the Tigers were one of them. But they ran out of steam when the Broncos scored their fourth try.  That was the crucial turning point for of the game and fittingly it was Lockyer’s to create. He is a marvellous athlete and his longevity has been something else. He fits into that group of high performing players like Brad Thorn (one of my all time favourites — now playing for rugby union for the All Blacks of course), Nathan Hindmarsh (Parramatta Eels) and Petero Civoniceva (Penrith Panthers).

In the end a good game, but the Tigers were disappointing and the Broncos illustrated they are a real challenger this season with their mix of young and old heads.