The Sydney Roosters have claimed top spot with a gutsy 12-10 win over Brisbane but they have paid a massive toll with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves’s NRL season over.
They are also expected to be without halfback Mitchell Pearce for several weeks after he suffered a suspected hamstring tear.
Both were taken off in the opening 20 minutes but Trent Robinson’s side still managed to grind out a memorable win that saw them jump the Broncos to be within touching distance of their third straight minor premiership.
Waerea-Hargreaves was assisted from the field in the 12th minute when his knee buckled under him in a tackle and soon after their problems were compounded when Pearce was assisted from the field.
Both were sent for MRIs immediately and Waerea-Hargreaves was ruled out for the season soon after.
Despite losing two of their key men, the Tricolours dominated the opening half but were unlucky to only lead 8-0 at the break.
They couldn’t convert their pressure into points after they bombed it four times either when they were over the stripe or with the line open.
The 19,137-strong crowd made their feelings known when Blake Ferguson was controversially denied by the video referee when it was ruled Brendan Elliot got a fingertip to it fielding a James Maloney bomb.
However they finally cracked the Brisbane line in the 30th when they put it through the hands to cross through Elliot.
The Broncos sparked the game to life five minutes after the break when Ben Hunt and Justin Hodges found the Roosters short.
A Corey Oates try in the 61st got the Broncos back to within two and the Roosters bench was reduced to two for the final 12 minutes when Kane Evans was taken from the field for a concussion test.
However the Roosters held on bravely, repelling several Broncos attacking chances, to elevate them into first position on the NRL ladder with two games remaining.