Broncos v Roosters: Five key points
A twist in the Justin Hodges fairytale, moments of madness, the spine-tingling Broncos combination and the Roosters claim an unwanted slice of history. Key points to come from Brisbane's 19-point preliminary final victory at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Hodges facing nervous wait
Midway through the first half Justin Hodges's grand final farewell looked in doubt due to injury but the biggest problem facing the Broncos skipper now is a wait for the match review committee on Monday morning.
Hodges was placed on report for a lifting tackle on Roosters back-rower Aidan Guerra 15 minutes into the second half and it is a moment that shapes as the only possible dampener on a commanding 31-12 victory on Friday night.
Twenty-five minutes into an extraordinary first half of football Hodges limped from the field with what appeared to be a hip injury after he was bent back in a tackle by Roosters prop Dylan Napa.
He returned just six minutes later to help guide his team into a seventh grand final and their first since 2006 with a perfect record of six wins since their first in 1992.
But we won't know whether he will get to play a 251st and final game in the NRL until the match review committee deliver their verdict on Monday.
Expect the unexpected in finals footy
"It was kind of like he couldn't believe it could happen."
Phil Gould's summation of the quickest finals blunder since Martin Bella's knock-on from the kick-off in the 1994 Grand Final could hardly have been more perfect.
At the end of a regulation first set to such a massive occasion Shaun Kenny-Dowall bobbled a wobbly Ben Hunt kick and then inexplicably threw a 20-metre pass looking for Roosters fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Instead he hit Darius Boyd pushing up-field fair on the chest and he and Sam Thaiday, Justin Hodges and Matt Gillett could scarcely believe their luck as the fullback ran in under the posts for one of the most extraordinary finals tries ever witnessed.
Until they produced another one 10 minutes later.
A grubber kick from Ben Hunt that for all the world was going dead in-goal was tapped back by winger Jordan Kahu who used every spare blade of green grass inside the touchline to reach the Steeden. The tap-back got a touch from Justin Hodges before falling into the hands of Hunt who planted the ball down and brought the capacity crowd to their feet.
Broncos combination simply spine-tingling
The greatest compliment you can give the Broncos is that their set piece involving Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford that led to Andrew McCullough's try in the 18th minute is that it was Melbourne Storm-like. Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater have tormented teams for a decade with ruck plays that you can predict yet still be powerless to stop and the Broncos produced a new set play that could become just as devastating.
Putting into words won't do it justice but Hunt drifted to the right after receiving the pass from McCullough and rather than hitting Adam Blair with an inside pass went across him to find Milford bursting through next to the ruck. Hunt hurdled a Rooster to take a return pass and then found McCullough backing up on his right.
Just watch the video, it is wonderful rugby league.
Roosters pay again for Week One lapse
In three years as coach of the Roosters Trent Robinson has established his side as the premier club team in the NRL but three minor premierships lose much of their lustre when there is only one win on grand final day to show for it.
Last year the Panthers caused the upset of the finals series when they snuck past the Roosters in their Week One qualifying final and by the time the met South Sydney in the preliminary final they'd had to expend more petrol than they had planned.
It has been déjà vu all over again in 2015 with the fourth-placed Storm knocking them off in Week One and a tough albeit ultimately one-sided win over the Bulldogs took its toll as the Broncos enjoyed the week off.
Manly were runners up either side of their premiership win in 1996 while the Roosters made three grand finals from 2002-2004 and won only one title.
It's heart-breaking to be so good for so much of the season and not make the decider but exemplifies how important the week off prior to a preliminary final has become in the modern game.
Instead of a period of dominance, the Roosters now own an unwanted piece of history as the only team to win successive minor premierships and fail to make the grand final in both years.
Suncorp Stadium erupts
The heart of rugby league in Queensland has never heaved like it has for the Brisbane Broncos in the 2015 Finals Series.
With 51,826 cramming into the ground on Friday night they created their own piece of history as it was the first time the ground has ever held two crowds in excess of 50,000 in the one finals series after 50,388 attended the all-Queensland derby in Week One.
There were fans so desperate to be there that they snapped up standing-only tickets and those who did have a seat were on their feet after less than 80 seconds when Darius Boyd scored an astonishing finals try.
They roared with every Adam Blair tackle, shrieked at every Milford half break and pleaded with the referees for penalties so that their team may progress just one week further.
Roosters fans of course added to the occasion but when their team handed over possession from a kick return with 22 minutes to play and Jack Reed scored two tackles later, the Brisbane faithful erupted in a way that would have sent shockwaves from Townsville all the way to Melbourne.