Broncos v Cowboys: Five key points
It was built as a grand final rematch and it didn't disappoint. If there is a better game this year, we are all in for a treat. The Broncos clash with the Cowboys had everything. Here is five key points from this Good Friday blockbuster.
Granville super sub
Cowboys coach Paul Green again made the decision before kick-off to move hooker Jake Granville to the bench and start Rory Kostjasyn. It's been a tactic Green has used throughout the past three weeks and it continues to pay dividends.
Granville came onto the field in the 26th minute and it didn't take the livewire long to remind Brisbane fans of what they're missing as he quickly made an impact for the Cowboys. He scored in the 28th minute with a tackle busting run and minutes later the 27-year old helped put Ethan Lowe over the line and only a great tackle from Anthony Milford prevented Lowe from getting the ball down. Granville's tackling was immense for the Cowboys as he continued to rattle the bones of his ex-teammates whenever they ran the ball near him.
Thurston a class above
Johnathan Thurston almost proved the difference between the two sides as he put on a second half performance that would have been worthy of man of the match. The difference in the last tackle options between the two teams was immense. Whenever the Cowboys needed to get it right – Thurston delivered.
He put Michael Morgan through a gaping hole to give the Cowboys the lead with 10 minutes to go and looked to be guiding his team to victory before Brisbane struck back. He was denied in extra-time in what would have been the match-winning try but the bunker found him to have knocked on in controversial circumstances.
Roberts jets off
James Roberts took the field after weeks of criticism for his slow start to the season and he quickly proved the doubters wrong. It only took until the eighth minute for the New South Welshman to make an impact. An inside run onto a ball from Milford led to a 25-metre line break and Brisbane capitalised to take two easy points from the ensuing penalty.
Roberts wasn't done there, with a second piece of individual brilliance from the 23-year-old resulting in a stunning Milford try. Roberts broke the line on halfway in the 21st minute, burning the Cowboys defenders with his speed, and Milford did the rest.
He came within centimetres of scoring in the 45th minute as he broke a Kane Linnett tackle and broke the line. Only a desperate tackle from Lachlan Coote stopped the speedster from scoring.
To cap off a stellar night for 'the jet', he scored in the 75th minute to gift the Broncos the lead. Anthony Milford broke through the line off the scrum and delivered a perfect ball onto Roberts' chest as Brisbane went the length of the field to score. He ended the night with 179 run metres in what was a stunning individual performance.
Two points tallying up
The Broncos missed many opportunities to take the penalty goal in their one-point loss to Penrith last weekend and it became clear early in the match that Brisbane had learnt from their mistakes. At the first opportunity for a shot at the sticks, Ben Hunt immediately signalled for Parker to take the penalty goal and the Broncos captain did just that.
Minutes later, Brisbane received a second penalty inside Cowboys territory and Parker again took the two points. It seemed a strange move to double the lead from two to four, but coach Wayne Bennett has proven time and time again just how important it is for his teams to take any points on offer.
Brisbane added a third penalty goal to their tally in the 36th minute to make their lead 12-6. The Cowboys ill discipline would cost them dearly in the first half as Brisbane held onto a six-point lead at halftime – all from penalty goals.
The trend continued in the second half as Brisbane channelled their Queensland rugby counterparts to kick another penalty goal – taking their tally to four for the match. It proved to be quite important at the end of the night.
Finals footy in March
The Queensland derby did not disappoint as a massive 46,176 crowd flocked to Suncorp Stadium to see last year's grand finalists battle it out. The speed of the game brought back memories of the 2015 decider as both teams played high tempo rugby league of the highest quality.
The Broncos and the Cowboys delivered arguably the game of the year. The rivalry is something fans of both teams are lucky to be involved in as Queensland experiences a golden period of rugby league. The game had everything and the finish capped off a stellar night of rugby league. 'The cauldron' was in full voice and cemented its claim as the best rugby league stadium in the world.