With another thrilling Queensland derby for fans to enjoy, the Brisbane Broncos held on to beat the North Queensland Cowboys 24-20 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday night.
The Cowboys were favourites heading into the clash, given the week one performances of both teams. The Broncos started off with a strong set, but an offside penalty against Matt Lodge gave the Cowboys great field positon, and from there they managed to score with Jordan McLean using his great length to stretch over the line. The Cowboys had eight of the opening 10 sets between both sides, helping them gain good field position and an 8-0 lead by the 7 minute mark. A great solo effort from Tevita Pangai Jr. gave Brisbane their first points, and from there momentum swung. By elevating their performance, tries for Tom Opacic and Alex Glenn gave Brisbane an 18-8 lead heading into halftime.
The second half saw the Broncos replicate their good forward running and nearly getting an early try through Corey Oates, but he was denied with a foot in touch. Brisbane continued to succeed in facets of the game they struggled in against the Dragons last week, with a low missed tackle count and a pleasing completion percentage. Gavin Cooper and Kodi Nikorima traded tries to see the scores at 24-14 with 10 minutes to go, until Jake Granville scored off a Thurston assist in the 71st minute, bringing the Cowboys back within a converted try. Their best chance with under two mintes left came with Scott Bolton, who was inches away from crossing the line until he collided with the goal posts, casuing the ball to pop out and the Broncos to regain possession. Brisbane held on for a 24-20 win, in another entertaining clash between the two sides.
‘Act of God’ brings another Queensland derby to a spectacular finish
If many thought the Broncos-Cowboys game could not get any more entertaining, they were in or a treat. The Broncos had dominated the majority of the game, but as the Cowboys scored twice in the final 20 minutes to bring them to within four points, the possibility of snatching a win looked on the cards. With great field positon and a fresh set, Thurston passed a ball inside to Scott Bolton who simply had to cross the line and drop the ball down to give the Cowboys a victory. But a collision with the goal posts and help from Tevita Pangai Jr., Bolton lost control of the ball, giving Brisbane possession with just over a minute left. The event was another crazy play from the most entertaining rivalry in the game for the last three years.
An injection of energy makes all the difference
The Broncos were a lacklustre side against the Dragons without the will to win it seemed, stemming from being outplayed by the opposing forwards. With a simple increase in energy from the likes of Gillett, Pangai Jr. and McGuire, Brisbane were able to increase the tempo of the game, setting up the halves with space and thus giving the outside backs plenty of chances. Brisbane improved on their average set distance, with of 40.2 metres compared to 33.3 metres a week ago.
Cowboys’ first half costly
Although the Cowboys started the game off with a quick 8-0 lead, they fell asleep to round out the first half as the Broncos ran in three tries with plenty of chances created. Brisbane could have easily entered the break 30-8 ahead with more urgency in their attack, coming from increased confidence and slack defence from North Queensland. The second half saw the Cowboys score twice to narrow the margin as their starting forwards came in to reignite their attack, but it was too little too late as the Broncos hung on for a dramatic win.
Discipline remains an issue for the Broncos
Regardless of the win, the Broncos struggled to keep the errors and penalties at a minimum as well as converting their opportunities when they were presented. Brisbane gave away three penalties in the opening 10 minutes against the Dragons a week ago, and mirrored that on Friday with four penalties in the opening 16 minutes of play. Kodi Nikorima and Sam Thaiday were culprits for denying Brisbane two first half tries, with Nikorima making a bad decision with the boot close to the line and Thaiday unnecessarily taking out a defender. The Broncos also committed 11 errors, to the Cowboys eight, with one in particular early on that lead to a Jordan McLean try.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Broncos Coach Wayne Bennett conceded that the Broncos were not at their best and bombed three try scoring opportunities. However he had a strong message after the game, saying that no one can divide the team, adding that the strength is in “the club and the people.”
Cowboys Coach Paul Green said his side mentally took their foot off the pedal, and allowed brisbane to score “cheap points”. Green joked he hoped the posts were alright after Bolton’s collision. Captain Johnathan Thurston added that the Broncos began “blowing us apart,” and their attack dominated the game.
Tries: Pangai Jr. (17m), Opacic (22), Glenn (26m), Nikorima (67m)
Goals: Isaako 4/4
Field Goals: N/A
Tries: McLean (2m), Cooper (60m), Granville (70m)
Goals: Thurston 4/4
Field Goals: N/A
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd, 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 4 Jordan Kahu, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Tevita Pangai Jr., 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Matt Gillett, 13 Josh McGuire Interchange 14 Sam Thaiday, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Korbin Sims, 17 Tom Opacic
Cowboys: 1 Ben Hampton, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neil, 4 Javid Bowen, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Te Maire Martin, 7 Johnathan Thurston, 8 Matthew Scott, 9 Jake Granville, 10 Jordan McLean, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo Interchange 14 John Asiata, 15 Coen Hess, 16 Scott Bolton, 17 Corey Jensen