Queensland legends make history, errors cost Brisbane and Hunt silences the critics. The key talking points to come from the Cowboys' epic golden point win over the Broncos on Friday night.
Two Queensland legends make history
Johnathan Thurston set another personal milestone on Friday night, notching up his 2000th premiership point with his first conversion of the night. It was a fitting night to do so, with Queensland captain and teammate Cameron Smith achieving the feat just hours earlier against the New Zealand Warriors. Smith became the fifth to achieve the mark, with Thurston the sixth. They both join Hazem El Masri, Andrew Johns, Jason Taylor and Daryl Halligan as the only players to reach the mark. Smith and Thurston have played together at Origin level since 2005. In that time they have guided the Maroons to eight-straight titles and ten in total. It seems success just follows them both and Friday night was no different.
Errors before and after half-time cost Brisbane
The Broncos were their own worst enemy in the minutes before and after half-time, letting the Cowboys cross for tries in the 39th minute and the 43rd minute. This changed the game, with Brisbane going from leading 14-6 to trailing 18-14. It put all the momentum in North Queensland's favour and at one stage it looked as if they were going to run away with it. What makes things worse for the Broncos is that the first half try could have been easily prevented, with second-row forward Alex Glenn missing a key tackle that saw Michael Morgan go in to score. The try after half-time was also from a Brisbane mistake, with Jordan Kahu making a meal of a Johnathan Thurston bomb. Jake Granville pounced on the loose ball to score next to the posts. It's fair to say this period of play cost the Broncos the match.
Winterstein all out of luck
Antonio Winterstein has suffered another injury setback after breaking his forearm. The 28-year-old exited the field early in the first half of his side's clash with the Broncos after reeling away from a seemingly innocuous tackle on James Roberts. The worst was soon realised with the Cowboys' trainer immediately signalling to the bench that Winterstein was done for the match. It's hugely unlucky for the North Queensland winger who missed his side's Round 1 clash with the Raiders due to an ankle injury. Unfortunately he will now miss an extended period of time and that may open the door for teenage sensation Kalyn Ponga to return to the first grade team. Coach Paul Green will have a lot of thinking to do before the Cowboys take on the Sea Eagles in Round 3.
Hunt silences critics
Ben Hunt had a mixed game in Round 1 and was widely criticised for his performance. His much maligned kicking game has been a subject of debate ever since he accepted a five-year contract with the Dragons from 2018. For these reasons Hunt had a point to prove on Friday night and he did just that. His night started with a pinpoint grubber kick for speedster James Roberts to score. This put his confidence through the roof and he just kept improving. Hunt continued to put his stamp on the game midway through the first half, kicking an excellent 40/20 to put the Broncos on the front foot. He followed up this effort with another great short kick, grubbering next to the posts to put captain Darius Boyd in for a four-pointer. Although his second half was not as prolific, Hunt can hold his head high after a great performance.
A huge crowd of 47,703 people came into Suncorp Stadium to witness another classic. The Queensland derby is currently the best rivalry in rugby league and fans are voting with their feet. The average crowd at the venue the last three times these two teams have met is 48,089. Rugby league is thriving in Queensland and it will continue to grow if the derby continues to produce this type of quality entertainment. Four out of five of the past clashes have gone to extra-time and it doesn't look like that trend will change any time soon. The players say it's the closest thing to State of Origin football and it would be hard to disagree.