The Sydney Roosters won a remarkable NRL contest against Brisbane with centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall scoring four tries in the high-paced 34-30 victory at Suncorp Stadium on Monday night.
Kenny-Dowall’s fourth try regained the lead for the Roosters after the Broncos had staged a stunning comeback from 28-6 down in the second half to lead 30-28 following a hotly disputed try to prop Nick Kenny.
Brisbane’s top eight hopes were dented by a Roosters side which was red hot in the opening half sparked by stand-in halfback Todd Carney.
Despite being forced to reshuffle their line-up hours before kick-off to cover the loss of representatives Mitchell Pearce (hamstring) and Nate Myles (hip), the Roosters ran amok with centre Kenny-Dowall taking his season tally to 12 with his four tries.
Coach Brian Smith swung Braith Anasta into five-eighth with Carney moving to halfback.
He also re-arranged his pack with Frank Paul Nuuausala moving from the back row to lock and Mose Masoe and BJ Leilua both promoted to the starting side.
Carney was superb as the Roosters overcame an early defensive lapse which saw Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough cross from dummy half in just the third minute.
Three tries in 10 minutes – the first to Carney and Kenny-Dowall’s first half double (20th and 25th minutes) sent the Roosters to the sheds 16-6 up.
Carney was again involved in the lead up to Leilua’s try just after half time that pushed the Roosters out to a 22-6 lead before Kenny-Dowall cashed in on a dropped ball to run 75 metres for his third in the 50th minute.
Carney’s conversion to make it 28-6 seemed to slam the door.
But there was plenty more to come for the 26,486 crowd.
Utility Matt Gillett produced a powerhouse try in the 54th minute to reduce the margin to 28-12.
Israel Folau crossed in the 60th minute before Gillett engineered a try for winger Antonio Winterstein that cut the difference to 28-24.
The Broncos snatched the lead when Kenny put his hand on a loose ball deemed to have been stripped from Folau in a two man tackle.
Corey Parker’s conversion gave Brisbane the lead 30-28 despite the Roosters’ protest that Folau had lost the ball.
Kenny-Dowall came up with the knockout blow after Carney and fullback Anthony Minichiello combined to put him over in the 75th minute.
Roosters coach Brian Smith was elated with the way his players hung on to win.
“We had to dig deep and we found it and I’m rapt in our guys doing that again,” said Smith.
“It’s just quite incredible, two weeks in a row. The poise under pressure with so many young guys in our team, I thought it was just magic.”
While Smith said Carney was outstanding, adding he’d been playing like that since he was a kid at Canberra, he thought Kenny-Dowall’s effort to score four tries was the highlight.
Brisbane suffered injuries to utility Ben T’eo who will have scans tomorrow for a broken foot that could sideline him for four to six weeks while Winterstein wrenched his knee but may be right for Sunday’s blockbuster against the Dragons.
Brisbane coach Ivan Henjak said his side didn’t deserve to win although they would have taken the two points when they hit the lead 30-28 late in the game.
“When we got to the front it would have been nice to steal it, but we’re realistic enough to know we didn’t deserve it,” he said.
“It (the loss) is not fatal but we do need to bounce back. There’s a lot more twists and turns to come yet.”