Brisbane Broncos 16 (M Gillett, D Vidot, A McCullough tries; C Parker 2 goals)
North Queensland 12 (J Thurston, G Cooper tries; J Thurston 2 goals)
Dale Copley was the unlikely match-winner for Brisbane Broncos as they went two from two in scoring a 16-12 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys.
With the Cowboys leading by two with six minutes remaining, Copley was able to break through a Johnathan Thurston tackle, before throwing the final pass to hooker Andrew McCullough for the winning try.
Brisbane held on despite Tariq Sims’ weaving run towards the line in the dying seconds, followed up by Thurston having the ball knocked out of his hands as he attempted to reach out for the line.
Copley missed the latter part of 2012, and most of 2013 with a pre-season knee injury, but has fought back and become an important part of a formidable Broncos outfit. A very handy replacement for the injured Justin Hodges.
Ben Barba for a second week set up the first try, with Matt Gillett finding an easy way to the line with some weak Cowboys defence after seven minutes. Barba also set up the second with a neat kick taken by Daniel Vidot to score in the corner.
Thurston’s quick tap from a penalty was rewarded a few tackle later when the five-eighth scored from close range. This would be the only score for North Queensland in the first half.
Right on half time Barba was involved again in a break down the right hand side, but the Broncos lost possession through Todd Lowrie. Brisbane would took a four point lead into the break.
North Queensland levelled scores when Gavin Cooper was the benefactor of a dropped kick by the Broncos. With twenty-eight minutes to go, a Thurston penalty goal gave the visitors the lead. A lead that would be surrendered six minutes from time.
Over forty thousand attended the match giving the National Rugby League a boost after poor crowds in round one. In a physical encounter, both teams at time struggled with the pace of the game and the humidity contributed to handling errors.
Josh Maguire will face two problems with the match reviewers after a high shot on Gavin Cooper in the first half; followed up by taking out the legs of a kicker in the second half. He was also involved with obstructing Tariq Sims as Ben Hunt was denied a try on the hour mark.
Josh Hoffman and Ben Barba will need checking post-game with both having leg injuries. Some concern too for Brent Tate after going down in a tackle during the first half with an ankle problem, but continued to play on.
McCullough’s efforts in scoring the final try comes on top of a fifty-plus tackle count. Sam Thiaday put in a determined effort as Brisbane temporarily take top spot on the National Rugby League ladder.