The Brisbane Broncos ended a tumultuous week by thrashing the second placed South Sydney Rabbitohs by 38-18 in a stunning performance at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
Blockbusting winger Corey Oates scored a hat-trick in a tremendous performance from the Queensland representative, who was gifted two first half tries off trademark Darius Boyd passes out wide, followed by a spectacular leap off a Anthony Milford kick to secure his third try and clinch a very valuable two points for his side.
Brisbane's often maligned halves Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima were also standouts in a very timely performance against title contenders the Rabbitohs in what was arguably one of their best performances of the season.
The win ensures Wayne Bennett's men will be in the Top 8 with two rounds remaining and even leaves the door ajar at an unlikely Top 4 finish should they hold their form for the next fortnight.
Souths were blown away twice throughout the match, completely missing the start by falling behind 18-0 and then fighting back to level the match, only for old habits to come back with poor discipline with the ball seeing them blown away yet again in the backend of the match.
The Broncos were under pressure against the second placed Rabbitohs and needed to find form immediately if they were to keep their semi final spot safe and they got off to the perfect start. Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford received some early ball and quickly found captain Darius Boyd out wide, whose catch and pass in the one movement sent a flying Oates over to score in the corner.
The hosts continued to dominate possession and the result was déjà vu for the visitors, when again the combination of Milford and Boyd found Oates to score his second try inside 20 minutes to lead 10-nil after Jamayne Isaako missed his second conversion attempt from the sideline.
Brisbane had the Rabbitohs back peddling, with the Broncos forwards making yards through the middle of an already tired Bunnies defensive line. Souths backrower Cameron Murray was then penalised for not being square at marker right in front of the posts and Isaako extended the home side's lead to 12-0. Their dominance continued when Milford sliced through inside the Rabbitohs half and found interchange forward Korbin Sims backing up on the inside. The Dragons bound backrower made it three tries in three matches to give the home side a commanding 18 point lead ten minutes before halftime.
The Rabbitohs had been starved of possession, but once they got their hands on the ball they made it count, when a slick backline move saw Adam Reynolds and Dane Gagai combine to put winger Richie Kennar over in the corner for a much needed try for the visitors.
Souths then charged back up field with finally some wind in their sails and just before halftime halfback Adam Reynolds narrowed the gap to ten points with a penalty goal as the siren sounded.
After the break, the Bunnies showed why they are one of the competition favourites, with two quick tries from wingers Richie Kennar and Hymel Hunt to tie up the scores at 18 all with 20 minutes to go and it was game on.
The Broncos however went up a notch, when Milford kicked high for Oates, who leaped above the pack and scored his third try which had the vocal home crowd on their feet. Minutes later they had even more to cheer about, when rookie David Fifita burst through off a suprb Nikorima pass only to be cut down deep inside the attacking zone. Milford and Nikorima then combined again moments later, to allow Fifita to finish off the play to crash over for his first NRL try. Isaako's conversion from the sideline extended the lead and a further penalty goal extended the lead to a commanding 14 points.
Nikorima then put the icing on the cake for the home side, when he latched onto a loose Cody Walker pass to race 65 metres to score under the posts and secure a huge victory for Wayne Bennett's side with just two weeks in the regular season remaining.
Brisbane will have no time to celebrate too hard, as they now travel to Sydney next Saturday, where they take on the competition favourites the Sydney Roosters in an absolute blockbuster at Allianz Stadium.
Souths meanwhile will receive a big boost with the impending return of superstar Greg Inglis and they will be desperate to bounce back before the Finals, as they now travel to the Nation's Captial, where they will face the unpredictable Raiders at GIO Stadium next Saturday afternoon.