The Brisbane Broncos play a home game about sudden death against St George Illawarra next Sunday after beating Manly 48-16 on an afternoon where the match-ups between next week's semi-finalists were only announced after the full-time siren.
The winner of the crash in Suncorp Stadium was known at least the 60th minute, but whether the Broncos could win a semi-final was the problem.
The magic profit margin they were looking for was 24 points to transfer the dragons as sixth.
The final profit margin of 32 points meant that the Broncos ended with a difference of +56, the same as the Panthers.
Penrith's superior forward and counter percentages led them to stay in fifth place.
The Broncos had a 26-point margin in the 59th minute, then a 22-point lead in the 65th for a Jamayne Isaako attempt in the 70th minute reduced the magic margin.
Joe Ofahengaue sealed the deal in the 75th.
The victory of Brisbane was made possible by Anthony Milford, a masterclass and a four attempts by Corey Oates.
Oates & # 39; Four Attempts Matched the Broncos record played jointly by Wendell Sailor, Karmichael Hunt, Justin Hodges, Denan Kemp, Israel Folau and Steve Renouf, who won it tally five times.
The Broncos started the game on fire with a Milford grubber, finished by a flying Oates to get his seasonal training up to 15.
Kodi Nikorima's running race was on the kickoff and after a good working scrum move in the back line, the Brisbane-half escaped Joel Thompson's grip to score.
The pursuit of points by the Broncos was evident from the extensive game of Matt Lodge, which acted as a second receiver and was overloaded at will.
Manly, as they often do against Brisbane, made many meters while they were in possession and a Shaun Lane tried to go up the 24-point margin that the Broncos looked so desperate.
A 98m canter from Oates after a Cherry-Evans-bomb gave the Broncos a 20-6 lead, but a 20m cut-out pass from Cherry-Evans to Brad Parker in frustrated search to Brisbane to increase the margin when they were a 20-10 took lead to the break.
Milford's masterly gambling game in 2018 was shown again early in the second half when an agile grubber found James Roberts.
Milford surpassed himself when he collected a Jack Gosiewski grubber on his tryline, dared his way to the 40m line and then went up to Oates.
Oates gathered the ball in one arm at full speed to race away and score a try that the Broncos from the nineties had written about.
When Oates scored again in the corner in the 59th minute for a lead of 36-10, the Broncos had a 26-point margin and a home final within reach.
Martin Taupau, who appeared as a five-eighth, then put the ball on the toe for Jake Trbojevic to score and the Broncos returned to the back.
They found them, courtesy of the 18-year-old David Fifita, who stifled a loose Thompson pass and threw a one-hander for Jamayne Isaako to race 55m and score under the sticks for a 42-16 lead. .
Hearts were in the mouths of Broncos fans when an obstruction knocked out a possible Daly Cherry-Evans and tried to play with seven more minutes, but when Ofahengaue hit the ball with five minutes on the clock, a semi-final was assured.
Sam Thaiday said goodbye to the faithful in his last club match for Brisbane, but the popular veteran will be back next week for his last game at Suncorp Stadium.
Brisbane and St George Illawarra will clash for the first time in the World Cup on Sunday since Darren Lockyer's golden spot-field goal earned a 13-12 victory for the Broncos in the 2011 final-series.
News and notes: The Broncos lost Alex Glenn for a calf injury with Kotoni Staggs on the bench … A chance Joe Ofahengaue knee to the end ended Tom Trbojevic's afternoon 10 minutes before half time … Anthony Milford played his 100th NRL-game for the Broncos. .. Corore Oates's record equal to four attempts for the Broncos lasted his season against 18 … Manly closed the season as 15th on the NRL-ladder … Crowd: 41.538.