Cowboys deny they're serial offenders
They were penalties that ultimately proved the difference but Cowboys players and coach Paul Green have denied that they were conceded for any tactical reason, merely blaming it on poor discipline.
As they did in the grand final six months ago, the Broncos opened the scoring on Friday night with a penalty goal to Corey Parker in the ninth minute and continued to take any opportunity that was presented to them.
All told Parker kicked four penalty goals all from close range which saw Brisbane finish level at 20 points all after 80 minutes despite the Cowboys scoring three tries to two.
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett took umbrage to the pattern of some teams – not specifically the Cowboys – deliberately conceding penalties when inside their 20-metre line when their defence is under pressure.
The Roosters won three minor premierships in succession whilst being the most penalised team in the competition, successfully banking on a regrouped defensive line being able to withstand anything an attacking team threw at them.
Rather than chance their arm with a quick tap the Broncos opted to take the two points on offer whenever they could and Cowboys five-eighth Michael Morgan said afterwards that they were costly penalties to concede.
"It's disappointing that they get a lot of penalty goals," Morgan told NRL.com when asked what his side could learn from the loss.
"We kept them to two tries but we gave away penalties in a position where they were able to take the two and they are a team that will always do that.
"We'll look at the discipline things but there were a couple of opportunities that we could have made the most of."
Prop James Tamou topped the tackle count for the Cowboys with 44 and while he didn't personally give away any penalties, said the team was disappointed in the position in which they were conceded.
At the end of 85 minutes the Cowboys had conceded seven penalties – down slightly on their season average of 8.3 per game – but Tamou insists it is an area that needs addressing.
"I was disappointed. There were a few there, it was tough," Tamou said of the penalties in their own half.
"Especially on our line, you have to 'D' up for another set so you don't want to give up a penalty on your own line."
When told of Bennett's suggestion that some teams deliberately concede penalties Cowboys coach Paul Green was quick to jump to the defence of his coaching and playing staff.
"We don't intentionally give away penalties if that's what you're trying to infer," he said.
"That's certainly not the way we coach but we will certainly back our 'D' in that case.
"As long as the refs are consistent with that stuff in all parts of the field that's all we want as coaches."
The grand final rematch resembled in many ways – besides the end result – their last meeting with Michael Morgan and Kyle Feldt again involved what was potentially the match-winning play.
The pass from Morgan shortly before full-time was ruled to be forward and with a crowd of more than 46,000 in attendance admitted that it was far more than a regular season game.
"I personally was a bit more nervous, just because it's a big game but if you're nervous about something it shows it means something to you as well," Morgan said.
"You know that it's a bigger game inside because it's a packed crowd playing at Suncorp.
"Yes we played them in the grand final and there is a big build-up for it but it's exciting too.
"At the moment it's still about the two points, it's just disappointing with the amount of effort we put in to keep ourselves in the game.
"Because it's so frustrating it will make us want to turn around next week and put in a good performance and get those two points back."