AS the Brisbane Broncos impersonated the Harlem Globetrotters on Thursday night, not everyone wanted tickets to the show.
The home side looked to have scored a certain try early in the second half of its 32-8 win over the Sydney Roosters when Ben Hunt finished off a game of hot-potato by crossing the stripe.
Hammered for its lacklustre attack early in the season, Brisbane line breaks were as regular as Craig Bellamy blow-ups in the first 50 minutes of the match. Its daring approach was set to be rewarded with another four-pointer to stretch its lead into double digits against the Sydney side.
But leading 14-8, officials disallowed Hunt's try when they called the miracle play back for a forward pass.
Anthony Milford had the ball on the break before he was trapped by a defender about 10m out from the tryline. The out-of-sorts playmaker was back to his best on Thursday night and managed to get a hand free and slipped a brilliant offload back to Hunt who was trailing in support.
But as Hunt slammed the ball in the in-goal before getting to his feet and shoving Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell, the referees cut the celebrations short by bringing the play back for what was deemed a forward pass from Milford to his halves partner.
To the naked eye it seemed the ball went backwards and replays only confirmed that suspicion.
"What? No!" Penrith legend and Fox Sports commentator Greg Alexander said. "We're behind the action but you could clearly see Milford pushed it backwards out of his hand.
"Who's calling that? Who made that call?"
Alexander's colleague Warren Smith agreed the Broncos were robbed.
"That is a real howler against the Broncos," he said. "They've been hard done by there."
The reaction was swift and severe on social media.
CHECK OUT THE INCIDENT IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE
Whoever made that call should be dropped. Horrible #NRLBroncosRoosters— Steve Zemek (@stevezemek) April 6, 2017
Disgraceful call that - it was a metre backwards #NRLBroncosRoosters— Adam Jackson (@AdamJackson_9) April 6, 2017
Someone better send these refs to OPSM - no way that was a forward pass. Broncos try for all money. #NRLBroncosRoosters— Stephen Fenech (@StephenFenech) April 6, 2017
The bad news got even worse soon after when Hunt was forced off the field with an injured hamstring.
However, fortunately for Wayne Bennett's troops, they did some damage to the scoreboard when Korbin Sims crashed over from close range. They added the extra two points and led 20-8 with 20 minutes left to play.
"Maybe a bit of justice done because the Hunt try was a try," Smith said.
A rejuvenated Brisbane outfit looked nothing like the side that had lost three of its five matches in 2017. Averaging just 2.8 line breaks per game before its round six clash against the Tricolours - the lowest of any team in the competition - the Broncos burst through the Roosters' defence five times in the first 40 minutes alone.
Perhaps Bennett threw the playbook out and let the players play touch football at training all week.
Hooker Andrew McCullough saved a certain try when he pulled off a desperate ankle tap to halt Michael Gordon's clear run to the line just 15m out from the paint.
"That summed up the Broncos' performance tonight," former NSW representative Brett Finch told Fox Sports.
A Jordan Kahu penalty goal extended the lead to 22-8 at the 70-minute mark before centre James Roberts ran the perfect line to pick out a hole in the visitors' defence and cross for a four-pointer.
David Mead then scored his first try in a Brisbane jersey to seal the commanding 32-8 victory.
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