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Magical Oates try sees Brisbane hold off the Sharks

An unforgettable put-down by Corey Oates has helped the Broncos hold off the Sharks in a pulsating contest that needed a moment of brilliance to find a winner.

The Broncos looked to be in control for much of the match before Cronulla hit back with a pair of second-half tries to level scores at 16-16 with 15 minutes left to play.

It looked as if the home side had all of the late momentum before Oates conjured a miracle on the left wing, somehow finding a way to get the ball over the line and give his side a vital 20-16 victory midway through the Origin period.

Oates can't crack the Maroons' squad at the moment but his powerhouse runs would certainly have played on the mind of coach Kevin Walters, who was in the commentary box as part of his media duties.

Brisbane weren't wasting time at the start of the game. They were on the board before the Sharks had checked their hair, with Tevita Pangai Jnr getting the chargedown and racing away to score in the second minute.

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Corey Oates reaches back into the field of play to score the winner.

Photo: Craig Golding

It was a passage of play that showed exactly why Bennett has such a high opinion of him and why representative duties are only a matter of time. It wasn't just the initial chargedown; he took the sharp bounce in his stride, reached up, patted it forward for the regather and the score.

Five minutes later, the Broncos were on the board again, this time as Anthony Milford stepped his way through the Cronulla defence to plant it under the posts. With his spot in the Maroons on a knife's edge, it was a timely reminder of what he can do when the defensive line is jagged.

Alas, Milford wasn't able to string together the highlights. Just a few minutes after he was celebrating, Milford found himself trudging to the sin bin for a professional foul, opening the door for the Sharks to get themselves back into the contest.

It took until the 22nd minute but Cronulla would crack the code through the impressive Jesse Ramien, who crossed in the corner before Chad Townsend's conversion went wide. A Jermaine Isaako penalty ensured it went to the break with Brisbane leading 14-4.

Sharks backrower Luke Lewis went off with a calf strain early in the second half as the Broncos threatened again before Matt Prior dropped it cold off a restart to give Brisbane another chance.

By that point the Sharks had completed just 14 of their 24 sets and were inviting trouble. It took a try-saver from Valentine Holmes to deprive Corey Oates of a try and with the game now locked into end-to-end exchanges, it seemed only a matter of time before someone cracked.

Instead, Brisbane took a deep breath and were happy for Isaako to knock over another penalty, giving themselves a 12-point buffer with 23 minutes left on the clock. The winger's steady kicking has been a welcome additon for the Broncos in 2018.

The Broncos would regret not taking the opportunity to put the Sharks to the sword. James Segeyaro's appearance set the home side running and Ricky Leutele would cross for his second of the season to make it 16-10.

Segeyaro would be at the centre of the attack again, taking the Prior offload and turning Wade Graham inside to level the scores at 16 with just 15 minutes left on the clock.

Oates had threatened all night and would come up with a sensational passage of play to give Brisbane the advantage. The pass from Darius Boyd looked as if it drifted forward but the put down was other worldy, with Oates' body out of play and his arm somehow finding a way to get the green light.

Phil Lutton

Sports reporter

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