SEMI FINAL - 2006

Date 22nd Sep 2006
Venue Sydney Football Stadium
Coach Steve Folkes
Captain Andrew Ryan
Referee Paul Simpkins
Crowd 29511
Bulldogs V Broncos
20 37
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Scorers

Player Tries Goals F Goals Points
Hazem El Masri 0 4 0 8
Daniel Holdsworth 1 0 0 4
Brent Sherwin 1 0 0 4
Matt Utai 1 0 0 4

Match Review

TEAM LINE-UP:

1. Luke Patten, 2. Hazem El Masri, 3. Andrew Emelio, 20. Ben Roberts, 5. Matt Utai, 6. Daniel Holdsworth, 7. Brent Sherwin, 8. Mark O'Meley, 9. Corey Hughes, 14. Roy Asotasi, 11. Willie Mason, 12. Andrew Ryan, 13. Sonny Bill Williams.
Interchange: 4. Reni Maitua, 10. Nate Myles, 15. Adam Perry, 16. Chris Armit

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Source: AAP

Darren Lockyer sparked the third biggest comeback in play-off history and guided Brisbane into the grand final with a stunning 37-20 NRL preliminary final victory against the Bulldogs at Aussie Stadium.

The Bulldogs were seemingly on course for their second grand final appearance in three years after building a commanding 20-6 halftime lead.

But the Broncos will play the winner of Saturday's St George Illawarra clash with Melbourne after scoring six unanswered second-half tries, with Lockyer the chief architect.

The former Golden Boot winner scored a try, set up several others and kicked a field goal to bury the Bulldogs and raise hopes of a sixth premiership.

Two-try hero Shaun Berrigan summed up the jubilation of his side immediately after fulltime.

"At half time we were down and out and Wayne just told us to get out there, it was do or die," he said.

"I tell you what, the boys just played enormous."

Only Newcastle, who overcome an 18-point deficit against Parramatta in 1997 and the Bulldogs, who gave the Eels a 16-point start the following year, have registered bigger come-from-behind victories.

The only bad news for the Broncos was Petero Civoniceva's 57th minute high shot on Bulldogs superstar Sonny Bill Williams, which was placed on report by referee Paul Simpkins and will be scrutinised by the match review committee on Monday.

The encounter got off to a controversial start with video referees Bill Harrigan and Steve Nash called upon twice in the opening 16 minutes to adjudicate on obstruction plays.

In a decision that is likely to be dissected well into next week, they ruled in favour of Brisbane when Shaun Berrigan dived over the tryline, despite suggestions teammate Brad Thorn impeded a tackle attempt by Andrew Ryan.

Soon afterwards Broncos centre Brent Tate was denied a try when it was ruled he used Tonie Carroll as a shepherd to the line.

In between those contentious decisions, the Bulldogs scored through pivot Daniel Holdsworth, who finished off a break from returning prop Roy Asotasi.

The try sparked a flood of points from the Belmore club with Willie Mason giving Brent Sherwin a saloon passage to the line when he offloaded midway through the half.

And then New Zealand international Matt Utai steamrolled past mismatched winger Darius Boyd eight minutes later to extend the lead to 20-6, where it remained until halftime.

But the Broncos stormed back into the contest after the break, scoring two converted tries in just eight minutes.

The first was a magnificent 100-metre effort begun by Justin Hodges and finished by Berrigan, despite a desperate chase and cover tackle from Mason.

That was the catalyst for a remarkable turnaround, as Dane Carlaw, Darius Boyd, Lockyer, Brent Tate and then Corey Parker all crossed in the second half.

Bulldogs pivot Holdsworth sustained a 17th minute ankle injury and didn't return, although his presence would have had little effect on the Broncos onslaught.

Data provided by Clint Crofts