Koroisau limps out of Tigers’ defeat to Broncos after being cruelled by the harshest Bunker call of the year


It was already going horrendously for Benji Marshall and the Tigers, 22-0 down at the hour mark, when their captain walked off the field.

To call Api Koroisau the most important player at the club is to understate how much they need him. Any injury to the Fijian hooker is an injury to the entire club.

The early prognosis was a back cork, which might give confidence going forward.

Reece Walsh, who was at the heart of everything in the 34-10 win, was also struggling late on and left with what appeared to be a heavy cramp, as did Adam Reynolds.

Koroisau had already been the centre of attention thanks to one of the harshest Bunker calls of the year after he was denied a try that could have given the Tigers a route back early on.

The hooker dived at the line from close range and made it through, apparently grounding the ball, only for the replays to show a miniscule separation en route to the deck.

The Bunker calls in and takes this one away from Api.

Was he hard done by?

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Marshall wasn’t expected to get anything out of this and the result was done well before Api left, but thoughts immediately turn to next week, against the Bulldogs, then successive home ties against the Knights and Dolphins, all games in which they have a fighting chance.

The Broncos also lost Jock Madden to a pec injury at the same time, and though they are better equipped to deal with his absence, it is still a big loss with Ezra Mam still out.

Madden had been one of the biggest positives, scoring twice on his best appearance in a Broncos jumper, but as ever, Walsh was the star.

He also got two before his cramps set in, but by that point it was all over bar the shouting.

Wests never gave themselves a chance

The Tigers had to have everything go right for them to stand a chance.

Bula and Charlie Staines dropping the ball at the first opportunity probably wasn’t in the playbook, and while they did get away with it thanks to an epic butchering from Mariner, it was less than 60 seconds until they were made to suffer by the same man, same corner.

Samuela Fainu was also culpable, earning himself ten minutes in the bin for one of the silliest professional fouls you’ll see: the back rower effected a copybook legs tackle on Corey Oates as he returned the football following a kick, only to discover that the Broncos winger had caught the ball in his own in-goal and was actually running it to the 20m for a tap.

Charitably, Fainu might not have seen that it was a tap restart, but unintentional or not, it was still a sin bin.

On the field, it’s not a surprise that the Broncos repeatedly went to their right, the Tigers’ left.

Solomon Alaimalo was on debut on the wing, which would be enough to be worthy of a targeting in and of itself, but his status as a former Super Rugby winger ensured that traffic would go that way.

It’s not a code wars thing, it’s a practicality.

What a finish from Deine Mariner!
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Ihe instincts of strong wing defence in rugby league evade plenty of blokes who have played the game their whole lives, and the constant decision making around whether to stay back or fly out, whether to keep width or to jam, is one of the toughest in the game.

The Broncos’ right shift is one of their trademarks, and will surely have been highlighted in video, but twice in the first five minutes, Alaimalo was left in no man’s land, once by not going and a second time by going too much.

In his defence, the third occasion, where he was chipped over on the final play of the first half, he could do little about.

The knowledge that they had to get everything right seemed to count against the Tigers.

Last week against Penrith, they had a red hot crack and came up short, but learned plenty. Taking on the masters of control, it made sense to chance their arm rather than try to outlast the Panthers.

This time around, it was far too conservative against a Broncos side that was always going to post points if given the chance.

The plan mightn’t have been terrible, but the execution early on was and, once the Bronx were more than a try or two ahead, it was never going to be enough to turn anything around.

Broncos turn it ON to close the first half.

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Brisbane get what they want

The big news ahead of this for the Broncos was the return of Adam Reynolds and Payne Haas – and Walters could not have been happier with their showing.

Reynolds had the ball on a string early on, Haas battered in and got himself a barnstorming try and both completed the game without a hitch.

They were also missing Selwyn Cobbo and Mam, but coped well with Jesse Arthars, in particular, looking a very capable back-up centre as well as an excellent winger.

There were elements that looked a little frayed by the end, not least both Walsh and Reynolds having cramp, but these things happen.

There wasn’t much beyond that to report on for Walters, who would have known that the Tigers in Campbelltown is something of a thankless task for a highly-fancied favourite.

Get in, get out would have been the goal. That was achieved – as long as Reynolds and Walsh only had cramp.

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