Story: Courtesy of NRL.com
The Wests Tigers and Brisbane Broncos met in both the men’s and women’s NRL Touch Grand Finals on Sunday, splitting the results with the Gold Coast turning on perfect playing conditions for the inaugural Premiership deciders.
The women’s Wests Tigers side prevailed 4-2 over a star-studded Broncos outfit while Brisbane’s men’s side fought back to send the game into extra-time before prevailing in a 4-3 thriller.
While the Tigers eventually got the better of their opposition in the women’s match, it was the Broncos who had the better start and opened the scoring two minutes into the match through Katherine Stevens.
Tigers gun Ash Quinlan and her counterpart Claire Tandek applied continued pressure on the Broncos defensive line, but they were continually turned away with Hayley Maddick denying the visitors time and time again. The Broncos couldn’t hold on forever and it was Quinlan who laid it on a platter for Paige Markey to score in the corner, levelling it up at 1-1 after 10 minutes.
It was the Broncos’ turn to apply the pressure and they did so, with a number of repeat sets at the Tigers line, but the usually crisp Brisbane attack was lacking and the Tigers held them at bay. The turnover gave the Tigers an opportunity, and a quality drive from Quinlan had the Broncos scrambling in defence. A quick ball from dummy half for Toni Breeze to score gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead which they took into half-time.
The Broncos duo of Maddick and Parker got their second half off to the perfect start, levelling the game up at 2-2 straight after the break, but the Tigers hit back quickly when Hinerangi Andreassend found Paige Markey for her to score her second of the match.
Brisbane kept pressing but time and time again the Tigers defence held strong and, with the chance to ice the game, Patty Michaelopoulous broke through from dummy half and found Player of the Final Ash Quinlan to score the match-winner.
On what happened to be International Tiger Day, the Wests Tigers looked to make it a double with a win over Brisbane in the men’s final and they got off to the perfect start. Heavily favoured coming into the clash, it was the experience of Rob Nakhla who got them on the board with the first of his double for the match.
Cody Green was dangerous all match for the Broncos and it was his deft touch that led to Tommy Quinlivan levelling the scores up at 1-1. It was Green again with three minutes left in the first half who broke the deadlock when a long ball to the winger was batted back inside to an unmanned Green to score.
The lead was short-lived when the old combination of Scott Buckley and Nick Good got the Tigers back to 2-2 with Buckley crossing over just before the break.
The teams re-entered after half-time to the tune of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and what a thriller the second half proved to be.
Both teams went try for try for the opening few minutes; Nakhla ran a wonderful line to get his second and a quick pass from Green to Justin Otto who with a right-foot step back against the grain levelled them up at 3-3. When the Tigers scored back-to-back tries midway through the second half to get the lead out to two tries, it looked likely they would make an historic grand final double.
But Brisbane got back to within one and with only a minute left on the clock, Hayden Moffat crossed to send the match into extra time. Wests commenced the 3-on-3 drop off with the ball, but a turnover in their first possession handed the advantage over to the Broncos, who marched up field and took their chance as captain Tim Baartz scored in the corner to give the Broncos the first Men’s NRL Touch Premiership.